The Leesburg Wawa is finally taking shape.
Motorists driving past the construction site at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 441 and Griffin Road will notice that steel is finally in the ground and the framework of the minimart building is starting to take shape. The highly popular food mart and gas station is located on a corner that used to be home to a large Citizens First Bank branch and a Sonny’s BBQ.
The Leesburg Wawa, one of four in the local area, is expected to open by Christmas. It will join a store in Oxford at the corner of U.S. 301 and County Road 466 that opened in November 2017, a somewhat controversial location in Lady Lake at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and CR 466 that opened late last month and a yet-to-be-opened minimart across from The Villages Regional Hospital.
Leesburg commissioners learned about the progress of the new Wawa during a recent commission meeting when Deputy City Manager Mike Rankin told them the steel for the building was arriving soon. He said he had been in conversations with Wawa representatives and they told him they wanted to have the store open by the Christmas holidays.
Wawa, which has made no secret of its aggressive expansion plans in the Sunshine State, also has tackled the Ocala market with force. The fourth new Ocala store opened its doors in May, just one month after three other locations opened on the same day. Wawa officials had broken ground on those three stores with a huge fanfare in September 2018 and had made the commitment to be a huge player in the Central Florida market.
Wawa, a privately held company, began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th Century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, Pa., in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, due to its quality, cleanliness and “certified” process. As home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960s, Grahame Wood, George’s grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products. Wawa adopted the Canada goose in flight as its mascot.