GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Despite the wind-swept rain, they came.
A line of people greeted managers and store employees at 8 a.m. Friday when Wawa opened its first New Jersey store of the year at the corner of Pomona Road and the White Horse Pike.
Joe Marchese, of Galloway Township, stood nearby at the coffee bar.
“You’ll never have too many Wawas,” he said. Marchese and his wife, Linda, picked up the first of their 10 days of free coffees.
The Pomona Wawa contains 4,691 square feet of retail space and a 12-pump gasoline facility along with new in-store graphics, colors, restroom design and merchandising features.
“You walk in through the front doors and see our focus on food,” said public relations representative Alyson Mucha.
The store also offers all of the traditional items expected in a Wawa: cigarettes, bananas, snack bars, potato chips, soda, coffee, energy bars.
“I’m lovin’ it,” said Rene Widecrantz, of Port Republic, while she prepared to pour a cup of coffee. “Wait, that might be McDonald’s.”
The Pomona Road Wawa is the 10th new store opening in 2017.
Wawa plans to open 55 new stores and remodel 75 facilities in the mid-Atlantic and Florida markets. The company anticipates adding 2,000 new jobs with the store growth.
Beth Ann McCourt grew up nearby in Galloway and said the Pomona facility mimicked the new stores back where she now lives in central Florida.
“The store adds something nice to the corner,” she said.
The Wawa was built where the Kennedy’s Bar had stood for decades. Kennedy’s was destroyed by a March 21, 2011, fire and had been torn down.
“We try to make the customer feel like they are at home,” said Nichelle Cherry, of Galloway, a customer service associate who normally works at the Pleasantville Wawa on Delilah Road.
A team of Galloway police officers made more hoagies than members of the Pomona Fire Company in a three-minute competition. The Galloway officers plan to donate a $1,000 check to the Police Unity Team No. 2 that will ride to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness for fallen officers.
The Pomona fire company will use its $1,000 donation from Wawa to buy equipment.
Wawa has more than 730 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.
More than 500 sell gasoline.
Galloway is a hotbed of Wawa activity, however.
Full-service Wawas are located at Tilton Road and the White Horse Pike, Pomona Road and the White Horse Pike and at Fifth Avenue and the White Horse Pike, all in Galloway.
A Wawa at Pitney and East Jimmie Leeds Road also offers gasoline.