Joseph F. Berenato
Morning, noon and night, Wawa does dining right
Since the opening of the first Wawa Food Market in 1964, the store’s name has become synonymous throughout the region with convenience.
Now, the chain has more than 850 locations on the East Coast, two of which are in Hammonton: Store 383, located at 100 12th St., and Store 8431, located at 8302 N. White Horse Pike.
Wawa has become such a fixture in the region that area residents make regular trips to one or more of their locations for everything from snacks to gasoline, and everything in-between—particularly coffee.
Nick Rosenheim, of Woodbury Heights, recently visited Store 383 to get his daily dose of caffeine.
“I usually get my coffee here; it’s a pick-me-up to get me going. I come if I need a snack, sometimes a sandwich—but I definitely go out every day for coffee,” Rosenheim said.
Hammonton’s Elena Meade noted that she regularly visits to Wawa to fill up her tank.
“I like the prices. Usually I get gas at the Super Wawa,” Meade said.
Meade also noted that Wawa’s food offerings have been growing over the past several years, a fact which often draws her to one of the stores.
“I come twice a week for the convenience, because they have more stuff than just hoagies now. Today, I got mashed potatoes for a side for the meat that I made at home—and sandwiches to go on a trip for my husband and son,” Meade said.
Michael Repici agreed with Meade.
“It’s fast, convenient and you know what you’re going to get. The lines always go quick; if there’s more than three people, they hit a bell to bring someone to another register. The meatball sub, the Italian classic, the roast beef—it’s more convenient, being a single guy, to get a hoagie made than buy $20 worth of lunchmeat and let it sit in the fridge,” Repici said.
Wawa’s menu—and convenience—has expanded greatly in recent years, including the introduction of a dinner menu in February, which includes various pasta bowls, burgers and fries.
Repici recently tried one of Wawa’s burgers for the first time, the latest addition to his thrice-weekly visits.
“I’ve never had it before. I got the classic—mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion,” Repici said.
Indeed, due to its relative newness, there are doubtless many within the town of Hammonton who have yet to sample the dinner options—or, for that matter, much of Wawa’s extensive menu.
As such, this writer opted to see for himself what Wawa has to offer at different times of day.
For breakfast, I opted for something rather simple: a custom pancake bowl with a sausage patty, a hash brown and coffee.
The hash brown has long been a staple at Wawa, and it never disappoints. It is light, crispy and full of flavor. The breakfast bowl came with three pancakes, which were sweet and fluffy, and the same sausage patty that Wawa uses on its breakfast sandwich, so there were no surprises there. (The bowl also came with a packet of syrup, but I traditionally opt for sugar-free, which I keep in stock at home.)
The coffee was perfect—as many devotees of Wawa will attest. For this meal, the flavor of choice was their blueberry cobbler coffee, which seemed the logical seasonal option for the Blueberry Capital of the World.
Hoagies of all variety are the usual choice for lunch, but, for the purposes of this article, it seemed only fitting to try something new, so I ordered the Cajun turkey Panini, accompanied by a bag of kettle-cooked Russet potato chips and a bottle of root beer.
Both the drink and the chips provided the perfect tempering to the spiciness of the Panini. For that, I chose pepper jack cheese, lettuce and pickles; the sandwich came with mayonnaise and Old Bay seasoning. It was an interesting combination—I would have assumed that the sandwich would be made with Wawa’s Cajun rémoulade—but it was tasty nevertheless.
When it came time to order dinner, like Repici, I decided to go with the burger. When ordering burgers at Wawa, customers have many of the same options for toppings as they do with other sandwiches, giving a greater variety than is found at many established burger restaurants. To that end, I topped mine with garlic aioli, American cheese, spinach leaves, pickles, fried onions and everything spice—which added a grilled flavor. The finished product—served on a brioche bun—was nothing short of delightful.
Customers also have the option of adding French fries to their order for an additional dollar—and cheese sauce for said fries for only 75 cents—and they should do so. The fries at Wawa, seasoned not unlike traditional curly fries—are refreshingly flavorful.
Wawa has a number of dessert items, but—particularly in the heat of summer—few things satisfy as much as a soft-serve sundae. Though there is only one flavor offered—vanilla—and the number of toppings offered is limited to chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, rainbow sprinkles, cookies and chocolate chips—there is something to be said for on-demand sundaes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.
I decided to go with the classic sundae: chocolate sauce, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. It was a good decision.
With so many menu options from which to choose, fitting any variety of dietary choices and needs, Wawa continues to do it just a little bit better than many of their competitors. It is little wonder that Wawa continues to be a beloved institution, and that so many residents of the region—and of Hammonton—“Gottahava Wawa.”