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September 17, 2015

Wawa to open Center City flagship store on Friday

The store includes features unique to its Center City location

Convenience Stores Wawa
Wawa Broad and Walnut streets Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Wawa's flagship Philadelphia location at Broad and Walnut streets in Center City.

The newest Wawa — set to open Friday in Center City — features marble countertops, dangling LED light fixtures and indoor bar seating overlooking Walnut Street.

It's a new look to a familiar chain.

"It is a very open store," said Dave Simonetti, the convenience store chain's director of operations. "It really changes the whole feel, from the front doors to the back."

PHOTOS: Wawa opens a flagship store on South Broad

The new flagship Wawa, at the southeast corner of Broad and Walnut streets, also boasts custom wall tiling, large panel windowing and a bronze canopy atop the corner entrance.

The kitchen, featuring all the favorite Wawa hoagies and beverages, serves as the focal point upon entering the 4,000 square-foot store. The overhead cigarette feeder seen at most Wawa locations is noticeably absent, adding to the open atmosphere.

The design is intended to fit Wawa into its surroundings on the Avenue of the Arts. But Chief Executive Officer Chris Gheysens said it also will serve as a prototype for a widescale remodeling of Wawa's 700-plus locations.

"You have to respect the Avenue of the Arts and everything that it stands for," Gheysens said. "It's a gateway to the middle of the town. It's such great architecture."

It's the first Wawa location to open in Center City in two decades, Simonetti said. It's also the first location to open without a gas station in more than 10 years.

Originally slated to open in November, Wawa ramped up its construction schedule to open before the papal visit. Mayor Michael Nutter, Eagles cheerleaders and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra will be on hand for the official opening at 8 a.m. Friday.

"We think it's going to be a very exciting opening," Simonetti said.