Wawa's 'Floridian Vernacular'

Retailer enters Sunshine State market with CBX design

Published in CSP Daily News

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Retail design agency CBX has designed a fresh, new prototypical convenience store for Wawa Inc.'s entry into the Florida market. The first Wawa store in the Sunshine State opened July 18 in the Orlando area, with four more scheduled to open over the next five weeks.

(See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)

Wawa's new 4,600-square-foot Orlando store is intended to reflect the language and style associated with Floridian vernacular architecture, according to CBX. Exterior characteristics include pastel colors, clapboard siding, pitched roofs and front porches that reference historic south and central Florida building types. The design also pays careful attention to landscaping, allowing the fuel islands and store to blend with its verdant surroundings.

"While the new design style is uniquely Floridian, every other visual reference is recognizably Wawa," said Joseph Bona, CBX retail division president. Travelers from the Mid-Atlantic will find the familiar "winged" gas canopy, the welcoming centrally located entry portal, ample upfront parking and the chain's familiar Canada Goose logo. The new Florida prototype, designed with the help of local architects and engineers Cuhaci & Peterson, also features expansive windows that provide a clear view to the new interior design.

Once inside, customers will notice the red-tiled wall placed front and center highlighting the new center island kitchen where fresh hoagie rolls will be baked-off daily. The food preparation area also incorporates a full-service specialty beverage section where customers can order more than 20 handmade varieties of hot drinks, espressos, Chai teas and lattes, as well as more than 20 varieties of Smoothies and frozen beverages.

Guests can order any specialty drink or sandwich exactly the way they want using Wawa's touchscreen system (recently highlighted by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney; click here for previous coverage), with a series of screens prominently positioned at the kitchen/specialty beverage area's counters.

The counter area is immediately adjoined by coffee and fountain beverage sections with a backdrop of a taupe wall tile. Red drum shades are used over the coffee area and at the beverage coolers (positioned on the opposite side of the foodservice/specialty drink counter) to create a "sense of place," Bona said.

Overall, Wawa's new prototype is characterized by a spacious open layout, with high ceilings and abundant natural lighting contributing to the comfortable and inviting space. CBX created a new color and materials palette emphasizing natural stone, several types of tile, hard rock maple laminate (a creamy white with a reddish tinge) for modular fixtures and shelving and copper accents. Elements were selected for their ability to contribute to the store's warm and welcoming aura while complementing the look and feel of the Sunshine State, Bona said.

The CBX team additionally updated in-store graphics, while Wawa's digital signage (from Wilmington, Del.-based the Archer Group) highlights the store's food and beverage offerings in a fun and appetizing way. "Digital signage and menu displays that allow for better time of day communication of various items will help introduce Wawa's unique offer to this new audience," said Bona.

The new ground-up construction stores will serve as the prototypical design for Wawa's wave of new stores planned for the Central Florida market.

New York City-based CBX is a fully integrated creative agency specializing in retail design and operations, brand and corporate identity development, packaging, research and motion branding. As a full-service consultancy, CBX offers architecture, interior design, merchandise and store planning, identity and branding, graphics and environmental graphic design, media design, product design, master planning, construction detailing and consumer research.

Wawa currently operates approximately 600 stores in five Mid-Atlantic states, more than 300 of which offer fuel. The Wawa, Pa.-based chain is known for its coffee, hoagies, surcharge-free ATMs and more. Stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and now Florida.