The region is getting a bunch of new gas stations. So where should we fill up - and eat?

To the left is a Speedway gas station. To the right, a Thornton’s, where there might be a deal on candy snack bars or soda.

Up ahead, there’s a new Casey’s serving up hot pizza. And coming soon will be a Sheetz, or a Wawa, or a renovated UDF ... it’s hard to choose where to stop.

Fueling centers are popping up everywhere in Southwest Ohio cities and townships, and some that exist are remodeling and expanding. Last week, the City of Fairfield firmed up the locations of three to-be-built Wawas. And these aren’t your average gas stations: Wawa is known for its food, too. As is Casey’s, and especially the big one that’s coming to Huber Heights ... Buc-ee’s.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Buc-cee’s is so big it’s considered a tourist attraction in the locations it exists now. The Huber Heights store will be a first in Ohio.

Drivers surely have their pick of places. Do you go where the gas is cheapest, the food is tastiest or where the deals are lowest?

Here’s a look at some of the fueling centers and convenient stores planned for this region.

The latest center to announce a store here is QuickTrip. It’s planned for Dayton and is the first one in Ohio. It will be near a large Love’s Travel stop on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard just of Interstate 75 and very close to UD Arena.

QuickTrip will have a large food and snack selection and 16 fuel pumps. It also will have outdoor seating where folks can take a break and enjoy their food purchases. The chain’s retail stores have full-service kitchens with fresh and made-to-order food items.

QuikTrip, founded in Oklahoma in 1958, now has roughly 1,000 stores in 17 states. Currently, the closest store is in Illinois. The company employs more than 28,000 workers.

Wawa’s plans for Fairfield may be new for that city, but this isn’t a surprise for the state: In September 2023 the company announced it is building 60 locations in Ohio through the next decade.

Wawa is a standard convenience store with gas pumps but is known for its food menu — customers can order hoagie-style sandwiches, meatballs, burgers, pizza and more. The store itself dates back to the 1960s when the first Wawa opened in Pennsylvania, but the brand goes back to 1902 when Wawa Dairy existed in PA.

Also coming to SW Ohio is Sheetz. The convenience store chain has opened multiple in the region, including in Beavercreek, Huber Heights, Springfield and Fairborn. There are more planned in Liberty Twp. in Butler County, Franklin and Washington Twp.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

And while one is planned for Centerville, there have been some legal issues regarding the location on Far Hills Avenue that are still being worked out.

Sheetz is also a Pennsylvania-based company.

So what about this 74,000-square foot Buc-ee’s store that is in the works? A lot, actually. It’s planned in northeast Huber Heights, and there will be changes to the surrounding roadways to accommodate the traffic it is expected to bring. Engineers for Buc-ee’s worked with city officials and the Ohio Dept. of Transportation to determine necessary upgrades to nearby intersections and the Interstate 70/Ohio 235 interchange just southeast of the project site.

The Buc-ee’s chain has a bit of a cult following, according to Business Insider, which called Buc-ee’s “a mix of a Walmart, a barbecue-centric deli, and the Texas tourism bureau, plus a dash of the Cracker Barrel general store.”

The one in Huber is expected to have 120 gas pumps and more than 700 parking spaces. It’s the food most Buc-ee’s customers talk about — it has areas dedicated to burritos and tacos, a bakery, Texas meats (brisket, sausage, turkey and pulled pork), sweets, a wall of world famous jerky and a section of nuts. The snack game is strong at Buc-ee’s.

Those who don’t want to fight a crowd at Buc-ee’s could opt to visit a local Casey’s. These much smaller fueling centers are also known for — you guessed it — the food. The pizza is popular and the people running its kitchens will tell you they can make almost anything you request (within reason).

Casey’s has its own brand of everything from soda to chips and the condiments to put on the sandwiches and hotdogs. And that pizza? Diners can buy it by the slice or take a whole one home. It can be pre-ordered in the app or purchased on-site with very little wait time.

Like other fueling centers, Casey’s has a rewards program for which patrons may register.

Not every gas station company is adding new locations. RaceTrac Inc. had proposed a truck-stop style gas station and food stop in Beavercreek, but leaders there struck it down because residents were passionate about not wanting it in the selected location at the corner of U.S. 35 and Factory Road.

RaceTrac applied to develop a 24/7 “extended diesel offering gas station,” according to the application, including a 6,000-square-foot convenience store, eight car refueling stations, five diesel refueling stations and 33 parking spots.

Residents who attended council meetings cited noise and proximity to residential areas as the main concerns.

Some chains that have been around awhile know the competition for dollars spent on fuel and food has arrived. In Butler County, a United Dairy Farmers at a busy Liberty Twp. intersection was completely razed ... to be rebuilt. The company said it needed to modernize.

Construction of the new store is happening at the same time a new Wawa is in the works right across the street.

Cincinnati-based UDF is a long-time fixture throughout the region and beyond, and company officials said last year they welcome the coming retail battle.

“We look forward to competing against them in our home market,” said Mark Wilson, spokesman for UDF. “Wawa is a well-run and respected convenience store brand.”

Reporters Cornelius Frolik, London Bishop, Aimee Hancock, Michael D. Clark and Michael D. Pitman contributed to this report.

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