January 26, 2023
York-based convenience store and gas station chain Rutter's announced Thursday that it will expand with 50 new stores over the next five years, including locations near Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It will also open its first stores in Delaware and Virginia.
The company currently has 82 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. The locations closest to Philly are in Lancaster County, with most Rutter's stores in the south-central part of the state.
Convenience Store Daily News reported Thursday that Rutter's will expand its Pennsylvania market to the east near Philly, beyond Pittsburgh to the west and north of Altoona.
The new stores could be on properties up to 25 acres and will range between 10,000 and 12,000 square feet. In Pennsylvania, some of the new locations will include walk-in, 29-degree beer caves, wine selections and seating for more than 30 people.
Much like Rutter's main competition in Pennsylvania — Wawa, Sheetz, Turkey Hill and Royal Farms — the chain has a menu of made-to-order foods that span all meals of the day. In addition to breakfast sandwiches, hoagies and wraps, the menu has personal pizzas, tacos, soups and sides. The coffee menu isn't quite as robust as those at Wawa and Sheetz, but Rutter's does make handcrafted, hot and cold coffee drinks as well as smoothies and shakes.
Rutter's also has 21 stores in Pennsylvania with video gaming terminals, making it the largest non-casino gambling operator in the state.
“Thanks to our food service innovation, focus on industry leading wages, large breadth of offerings and best-in-class customer experience, we find that our locations are the customer favorite in new and existing markets,” said Scott Hartman, president and CEO of the multigenerational, family-run company.
Rutter's didn't reveal any specifics about planned locations in its announcement Thursday and did not immediately respond to a request for more information. It's unclear how close the chain could come to Philadelphia, or whether Rutter's would consider a location in the city. Wawa's largest store at 150 S. Independence Mall is about 11,500 square feet, with most of its stores somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 square feet.
In recent years, Wawa has closed and reduced hours at a number of its Center City stores, citing crime and safety concerns as it rethinks whether Philly will be part of its growth plan. The local favorite is in the midst of a major expansion into several new states over the coming years, including more stores in central Pennsylvania territories currently dominated by Sheetz and Rutter's stores.
Wawa's growth has moved the chain just inside the top 25 of Forbes' list of the largest private companies in the United States. It is the largest private company in Pennsylvania, with 40,000 employees and $14.9 billion in revenue during the most recent fiscal year.
Rutter's has roots going back to agricultural operations in the middle of the 18th century. It opened a dairy company in 1921 and created its first Rutter's Farm Stores in 1968. The privately-held company shortened its name in 2018, opening its first locations in West Virginia and Maryland over the last five years. It has about 2,400 employees across its footprint and raised its starting wage twice last year, bringing the minimum pay to $17.50 an hour.
In addition to the store expansion, Rutter's said it plans to invest $150 million in capital expenditures for store remodeling and increasing alcohol and gaming offerings.
The competition among convenience stores in Pennsylvania gets a little more interesting each year. The main rivalry is usually thought to be a two-horse race between Wawa and Sheetz, but maybe Rutter's will have something to say about that in the years ahead.