Pittsburghers are passionate about Sheetz. On a road trip -- or on any drive, really -- this is where the locals stop for fuel, food, and clean bathrooms.
But there’s a lot more about the brand than meets the eye. These are the 10 facts about Sheetz that even #SheetzFreakz -- the nickname for the most ardent fans -- may not know.
The company is family-owned and operated.
Ryan Sheetz, the company’s director of brand strategy, said his uncle Bob started the business in 1952 in Altoona. In the decades since, it has remained family-owned and operated. It’s not a franchise.
Before it was Sheetz, it was a dairy.
The business started out as a dairy wholesaler, then began operating dairy stores in the Altoona area selling milk, cheese, meats, and newspapers. Around 1973, the company began selling gasoline, Sheetz said.
Sheetz’ reach is bigger than Pittsburgh.
More than 500 stores span Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. About 30 new Sheetz stores open annually.
Pioneering touch-screen monitors in the 1990s.
“We were the first to develop touch-screen monitors,” Sheetz said.
In the late 1980s, a Sheetz family member noticed touch-screen technology at a trade show. By 1993, Sheetz debuted touch-screen monitors -- a first for the convenience store and restaurant industry, which had previously relied on and paper-and-pencil ordering system.
Sheetz makes a point to connect with its community by sponsoring youth sports and providing donations to other charitable organizations, Sheetz said.
A focus on sustainability.
Sheetz stores use LED lighting, low-flow toilets, double-sided printer paper, and recycling. Electric vehicle charging stations are offered at many stores in Pennsylvania. Leftover ready-to-eat food items are donated to food banks.
Respect for Wawa.
In Pennsylvania, there’s a major rivalry between Sheetz in western Pennsylvania and Wawa in eastern Pennsylvania. And though they are fierce competitors, the two maintain “a very respectful relationship,” Sheetz said.
More than a typical drive-through.
At the Sheetz drive-through, customers can order food -- and pick up milk, bread, or anything else needed in a hurry.
Super Sheetz is a big deal.
For Sheetz fans -- they happily go by the name “Sheetz Freakz” -- the Super Sheetz is a special place. Double the size of a regular store, this store occupies about 10,000 square feet along 17th Street in Altoona -- “Sheetz taken to the next level,” Sheetz said. This flagship location often serves as the guinea pig to test out new menu items. It even sells beer, which is a rare feat in Pennsylvania.
“Restaurant-quality food” at a convenience store.
The large menu at Sheetz is rare among other gas station chains. “You can get restaurant-quality food at a gas station,” Sheetz said. Executive Chef Dan Coffin is constantly developing new food items. He has has a degree in culinary nutrition from Johnson & Wales University and is Marine Corps veteran who fed America’s troops during his service.