LOWER PROVIDENCE >> Out with one icon, in with another.
Though it was a sad day for many when Wawa vacated its Audubon home of 41 years in May 2014, many would say that trading the neighborhood convenience store for a Corropolese Italian Bakery is a pretty good deal.
But even owner Joe Corropolese didn’t know that launching a branch of the family empire in the tiny strip center was in the cards back then.
“We actually had a spot picked out behind the new Wawa; we just never went in there,” Corropolese said on Monday, referring to nearby Oaks Shopping Center. “But we kept our eyes open, looking for properties.”
After an attempt to purchase the Jeffersonville Diner building further down on Egypt Road stalled, the option to rent the old Wawa, which is owned by a group of investors, looked more and more appealing, Corropolese said.
“We saw this and decided why not give it a shot?”
The brand recognition was surely drawing loyal devotees on Monday’s first day of operation, while others may have been enticed by the aroma of freshly baked bread that invaded the parking lot, much more intensely than it does at the famous flagship location, Corropolese Bakery & Deli, on Old Arch Road in East Norriton.
“We have a full-blown pastry bakery, so all the baking will be done here,” Corropolese explained, adding that, unlike East Norriton, Audubon will be a deli-less operation.
“This is a strictly a bakery. We wanted to keep it simple here,” he said.
From cheese danish, crumb cake and tea biscuits to crusty Vienna Split loaves, football rolls and, of course, the world-famous tomato pie with its unparalleled, slightly sweet sauce, all the classic Corropolese baked goods are primed elegantly for indulgence here, beckoning from neatly arranged vantage points that allow the shopper a full view of the entire store.
Corropolese credited wife Marcy for the invitingly modern retail vibe.
“She had a vision for it and saw it through,” he said. “The Wawa was completely gutted and we’ve been working on this since April. The feedback we’ve been getting from customers today has been great.”
With Corropolese’s son Nicholas and daughter Amanda on board, the Audubon location continues the multi-generational family legacy that started with the first loaves of bread that tumbled out of the ovens belonging to Italian immigrant Guilio Corropolese at his neighborhood shop, G. Corropolese Bakery, on East Airy Street in Norristown back in 1924.
As many who flocked here during the Wawa years know, getting in and out of the parking lot at certain times of the day — particularly in a left-turning state of mind — can be challenging.
“The way I see it, if you have something good people will find a way to get in here,” Corropolese said. “They came for Wawa for 40 years and I hope they’ll come for us now.”
Corropolese Italian Bakery, 2809 Egypt Rd., Audubon, is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.