The Leesburg Wawa is starting look like one of the popular minimarts that have been popping up in the local area over the past year.
Motorists driving past the construction site at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 441 and Griffin Road will notice that the building is starting to take shape and the steel frame that will support the structure over the gas pumps has arrived and is waiting to be constructed.
The highly popular food mart and gas station is tentatively scheduled to open sometime before Christmas. It sits on property that at one time was home to a large Citizens First Bank branch and a historic Sonny’s BBQ location.
The Leesburg Wawa is one of four in the local area. 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 in July and a second Lady Lake location at 13535 U.S. Hwy. 441, across from The Villages Regional Hospital, that opened in September.
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, which also opened a store in Belleview on U.S. Hwy. 27/441 this year, is a privately held company that 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.