Do we officially have a Tri-State area turf war brewing with Royal Farms venturing into South Jersey? Thats what it smells like for sure. Let’s break down these three behemoths and see where they thrive, where they struggle and where they straight up suck in this edition of The Good, The Bad & The Fugly.
Let’s start with the big dog in the park and that’s Wawa who dominates Eastern PA and South Jersey.
Heavy Footprint: Eastern PA & South Jersey
They Dabble: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia & Florida
The Good: Once Wawa started opening and renovating stores with gas stations it was a major game changer that made it even easier to stop there. They have always dominated in the dairy department and the fact that they make their own teas, lemonades and various other drinks is my favorite thing about them.
Also, they have really stepped up when it comes to gourmet coffee products. The customized coffees, cappuccinos and lattes are actually pretty solid. Not Starbucks good but the lower price helps make up for that.
The Bad: For some god forsaken reason they got rid of my rice bowls that I used to CRUSH in high school and college. You had the pepper steak, country style, chicken teriyaki and usually a wild card that would never disappoint. Wawa if your listening…please bring them back!
The FUGLY: What the hell happened to the legendary Wawa hoagie from my younger years? The lunch meats are just straight up tasteless trash now. @lbiddle25 has blogged about it numerous times and discussed it on the podcast… and I have to agree with him. It is just slimy, tasteless deli meat now and it doesn’t help when the people making them just put no effort into the presentation. To be honest I probably haven’t had a good hoagie from there in about 10 years and that’s not an exaggeration. A once beloved staple of Wawa is now their biggest disappoint. Do better Wawa… do better.
Footprint: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Delaware & North Carolina
The Good: Sheetz wins in the overall food category. They do it all and do it pretty well. I’ve been to a handful of Sheetz in the PA, MD and DE area and have never been disappointed when ordering a custom sandwich or a create your own burrito but I stick to the basics which are not hard to perfect. Overall a lot of solid choices here.
The Bad: Sometimes Sheetz likes to get a little too cute in the food area. I get it …experimentation is key to keep people coming back for more but sometimes the mantra “Keep it simple stupid” should wipe out some of the odd menu items. Maybe that’s just me but it’s my blog post damnit. I guess I don’t have to order them if I don’t want to (but it’s just so damn tempting sometimes).
The FUGLY: This may be a reach but I have been spoiled so much by Wawa’s own drinks that having to grab a generic soda or iced tea that I can get anywhere is quite disappointing. To me if Sheetz gets more adventurous in this area then they could compete at the highest level with Wawa. Until then Wawa is still king when it comes to drinks.
Footprint: Maryland, Delaware, Virginia & PA
You Are Where Now??? South Jersey
The Good: They DOMINATE the chicken game. No doubt about that and although I have only been there once which I will get into below, I have only heard rave reviews from people who venture into a Royal Farms on a consistent basis.
The Bad: Story time folks. A few years ago after a long weekend of punishing our livers in Ocean City Maryland Leer and I stopped at a Royal Farms in Delaware because we heard it was legit. We walk in smelling like we just rolled out of a dumpster and go to order us some chickens. What happened next blew us away…..they were out of friggin fried chicken. Their staple. Their claim to fame (I may have just made that up). How do you run out of fried chicken when all you are known for is chicken. It would be like Taco Bell running out of ground meat. Unacceptable.
The FUGLY: They ran out of F’n fried chicken!!! Hot damn I am still salty about this years later. Okay enough with the chicken. Having committed already to eating there we went in a different direction and got some chicken tenders with fries like we were 5 years old. I have to admit I was not impressed as the chicken was meh and the famous western fries were soggy. Kind of lackluster all around. Now should this one experience shape my whole outlook on Royal Farms? No it shouldn’t which is why I am going to give them another chance when they move into Jersey near me. I am going to chalk this experience up to another disappointment in Delaware. Having gone to college there for 4 years there were plenty of times that state let me down.
In the end these three own the Tri-State area and for good reason. While none are perfect they all make a ton of money and rightfully so. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of them. Thanks for listening/reading.
If you enjoyed this, check out more posts from the Just Grubbin team here! Also make sure to listen to The Just Grubbin podcast to hear us go into further detail about this and to hear all of our random irreverent takes on food, drink and whatever else.