An added attraction for customers of legal drinking age at a new Wawa near Hellertown could be beer and wine sales.
In a letter dated July 18, an attorney representing the Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain asked Bethlehem officials for a resolution approving the transfer of a restaurant liquor license for the new Wawa at 770 Hellertown Road, which is currently under construction.
“In order to sell beer and wine from its new store in the City in accordance with its business plan, Wawa must secure a restaurant liquor license,” wrote attorney Ellen Freeman of Pittsburgh law firm Flaherty & O’Hara. Freeman said that because there are no licenses for sale within the city, Wawa has entered into an agreement to purchase one in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County.
Moving the license to Bethlehem must be approved by city council as well as by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), and a public hearing related to the transfer must also be held.
“The public hearing will be for the purpose of allowing the residents of the City to voice their recommendations and opinions on the proposed operations of a liquor license by Wawa at its proposed location,” Freeman wrote.
That hearing must be held within 45 days of the letter’s date or within the following 60 days if an extension is requested, the letter said.
It was not immediately clear when the hearing will be held, but Freeman said she and representatives from Wawa would answer questions from the city and/or residents at that time.
Most of the new Wawa stores that have recently opened in the Lehigh Valley include a beer and wine section with an adjoining seating area, as required under Pennsylvania law.
Some of the company’s older stores that are large enough to accommodate both beer coolers and table seating have been retrofitted with beer and wine sections.
One of the new stores built to include a beer and wine section is located at Rt. 309 and Passer Road in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County. The Coopersburg Wawa opened in February 2022.
Wawa is known for its hoagies, sandwiches, prepared foods, coffee, cold drinks and ubiquity throughout Pennsylvania and nearby states, including New Jersey and Delaware. In addition to a cult-like following, fans of Wawa are known for their rivalry with equally passionate devotees of the Altoona-based Sheetz convenience store chain.
Last year, Sheetz representatives appeared before the Lower Saucon Township Planning Commission last fall to discuss their proposal for a store that would be located along Rt. 378 in the Saucon Valley Square shopping center parking lot.
Except for Wawa’s oldest stores–such as one located on Broadway in Fountain Hill, Lehigh County–all Wawas typically include a gas station.
No opening date has yet been announced for the Wawa at 770 Hellertown Road (Rt. 412), which will be located less than a mile north of the I-78 interchange for Hellertown and Bethlehem.
The Wawa was first proposed nearly three years ago and will be located on the site for the former Chris’s diner, which is along one of the busiest corridors for traffic in the Lehigh Valley.