DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) – Burgerz. Fryz. Shweetz.
People in the Columbus area should get familiar with these terms, because a combination restaurant and gas station chain with a cult following in the Mid-Atlantic is staking a claim in central Ohio.
Sheetz will open its first location in the area on Tuesday at 710 Sunbury Road in Delaware. Doors open to the public at 7 a.m., but there will be a soft opening later this week to some private groups.
Sheetz let NBC4 inside on Thursday as crew members made final preparations. (See the video above for a tour.)
The core elements of a Sheetz location include a spacious interior of convenience store items and made-to-order food and drinks, a dining area, and gas pumps with a roomy parking lot outside. Sheetz is also known for its clean restrooms. Think of it as something between a corner store and a truck stop.
“We call ourselves the ultimate one-stop shop,” said company president and COO Travis Sheetz. “We’re a convenience store with gasoline, but we also have a full-service food program.”
That food selection separates Sheetz from traditional corner stores. Customers use touch screens to order a wide variety of foods and beverages that includes breakfast sandwiches, hoagies, burgers, tacos, chicken, pizza, coffee, milkshakes and fruit drinks.
“It’s made to order, you can get any combination you want,” Travis Sheetz said, “It’s the biggest menu that you will find in this kind of an outlet.”
People can also order for pickup with Sheetz’s mobile app, use the drive thru or scan items and pay virtually without going to the checkout counter. All locations are open 24/7.
Founded in 1952 by Bob Sheetz, Travis’ uncle, this family-owned favorite among people in and around the Appalachian Mountains has grown from Bob’s small dairy store in Altoona, Pennsylvania, to a company that brought in $6.2 billion in revenue last year according to Forbes.
Sheetz has 620 locations in six states: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina. The company’s business model is nearly unique in the United States; Its closest food-and-gas competitors are Philadelphia-based Wawa and Texas-based Buc-ee’s.
“I think you’re going to love it,” Travis Sheetz said, “But you’ve got to come inside, and you’ve got to experience it for yourself.”
Sheetz locations are often placed near highways, attracting a mix of long-distance travelers and local patrons. The one in Delaware sits on U.S. Route 36, and the previously closest one to Columbus is off Interstate 70 in Zanesville.
Ohio already has a few dozen Sheetz locations, but most are concentrated around Akron and Youngstown. The Delaware store will be Sheetz’s westernmost until about 50 locations dot the Columbus area through 2025.
“We’ve liked this market for years,” Travis Sheetz said. “The people that are in this market are very similar, we feel, to Pennsylvania in terms of the makeup. It’s got great infrastructure: roadway, highway systems.”
Each Sheetz store will employ about 30 people. Adding maintenance and distribution jobs, Travis Sheetz estimated the company will have close to 2,000 employees in the area within five years.