The new 7,500-square foot Wawa is set to open its doors on Friday at 8 a.m.. Except for the class banners that used to line the store's walls, the new locale retains most of the features of the old one, along with 14 newly hired employees and added features like modern restrooms and new equipment.
The new Wawa, located near the new Princeton Station at 152 Alexander St. — around 400 feet south of the old store — attempts to strike a balance between its historic heritage and the modernism of its architecture. With window walls, a gigantic skylight in the core checkout area and almost double the number of ordering stations at the round kitchen, Wawa representatives said at a press event Thursday afternoon.
Peter Gilligan, Vice President of Real Estate for Wawa Inc., said he hoped the bigger and more modern new store would still give the same old feel of connection to the University and community.
“There’ll be a little bit of ‘wow’ at first because it’s a very different looking store on the outside and a much bigger store," he said. "But I think once [the students] get in here, and they get into their routine and a few days of classes go by, it’s going to be the same old Wawa to them, because it’ll be the same people and the same great products.”
University Vice President and Secretary Bob Durkee ’69, who attended the event, said the first question raised when former University President Shirley Tilghman brought up the arts and transit project was about the Wawa, which she answered by saying that the Wa was eternal.
“While the Wa may be eternal, it is not complacent. Like the University and the town, [the Wawa] also continue to grow and improve, ever embellishing your status as an icon of this campus and this community,” Durkee said. “The Wawa is a crossroads for the University and the community.”
The new store has 3,600 square feet of retail space, an increase of 2,800 square feet from the old store, and there was an increase of 60 percent in the overall store size. The new store is designed by Rick Joy, an Arizona-based architect who also designed the new train station that sits next to the store.
Terri Levine Micklin, Director of Construction & Design for Wawa, said the natural light from the window walls and the central skylight change the whole environment of the store to make it more inviting. Other features Micklin said were particularly appealing were the frosted glass doors and the sustainable green roof, the latter of which is a feature exclusive to this location.
Micklin also confirmed that the class banners would not be going back up again.
“So unfortunately, just environment and time have damaged banners so that they weren’t able to be used,” she said. “But what we were able to do is preserve the stained glass that was in the transom above the main entrance to the old store.”
The new store will also feature a mural with a graphic of Nassau Hall on a wall near the entrance. It will go up some time between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Also new in the kitchen are full-serve milkshake machines and new Coke machines that serve at least 147 different drinks.
Peter Crowley, President and CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he was particularly appreciative of the Wawa because it supported the business and nonprofit community.
“We are thrilled that the Chamber is able to be a partner with Princeton University and the Wawa and all the other companies in the region that help the region grow,” he said.
The Wawa will have its opening celebration on Friday at 10 a.m. Shortall added that coffee would be free at the Wawa this weekend.