A Wawa is coming to Sussex County, but that means saying goodbye to the Chatterbox
A new Wawa will be replacing the Chatterbox Drive-in, the 1950s to 1960s-themed restaurant whose fans include Henry Winkler, aka the Fonz.
The land use board in Frankford unanimously approved the Wawa site plan application on Wednesday night.
Chatterbox owner Don Hall said his restaurant on Route 15 will remain open for at least the next several months.
“We plan on being here for the summer,” said Hall, who opened the Chatterbox in 2003.
Hall said in October that he had reached a sale agreement with Wawa, contingent on land use board approval.
Wednesday was the first hearing on the Wawa proposal, which includes a gas station, and the board voted 9-0 to approve it, board administrator Sharon M. Yarosz said.
The township’s engineer still needs to sign off on some changes in the design plan.
A spokesperson for Wawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Pennsylvania-based company operates more than 700 stores in six states, most notably in the Philadelphia area and southern New Jersey.
It offers fresh foods such as cheesesteak hoagies, breakfast sandwiches, soups, sides and snacks, in addition to coffee and other beverages. According to Wawa’s website, the Frankford location will be the only one within a 20 mile radius, other than one in East Stroudsburg, Pa.
It’s not the first time Wawa has bought an existing eatery so it could grow its footprint in prime locations.
Wawa sought local planning board approval last summer to knock down a diner in Brooklawn, Camden County to build its convenience store there. It also bought out a popular restaurant in Gloucester County to add another store at a busy intersection.
The Chatterbox is known for bike nights on Thursdays and classic car shows on Saturdays.
It features a rotating series of vintage vehicles in the middle of the dining area. Model trains run on a track above the tables and dozens of movie posters and other memorabilia adorn the walls.
A big crowd showed up in 2013 when Winkler was there to pose for photos and sign autographs.
Hall, who attended the meeting on Wednesday, described it as “a very smooth process.”
“The planners and the attorney for the developer really had done their homework and presented a very thorough package for the land use board to consider,” Hall said.
Wawa has been expanding in New Jersey and opened a store in Ewing, in Mercer County, last summer.