Sheetz Inc. plans to continue its rapid expansion in the state, with company officials hoping to open six new West Virginia stores each year for the foreseeable future.
While the company is poised for rapid growth, Kanawha County is still not on its list for immediate expansion.
Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz already operates 44 "convenience restaurants" in the state. The family-owned company has 15,000 employees working at its 452 stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.
In addition to offering traditional convenience store fare, the company also has its own popular line of Made-To-Order brand sandwiches and coffees.
Sheetz opened four new locations Putnam County over the last four years, two of which opened in the past few weeks.
Real estate manager David Hazelet said Friday the company already has two additional West Virginia sites under contract - one in Beckley and another in Ripley - with negotiations nearly complete for a handful of other locations.
"We have about five sites that we are on the verge of signing but haven't quite made it yet," Hazelet said.
While all five sites are located in towns along the Interstates 77 and 79 corridors, he said none of them are in Kanawha County.
"Unfortunately no, and God I wish there was," Hazelet said. "I wish we had one in Kanawha."
The biggest hurdle for locating a new store, particularly in Kanawha County, is the lack of flat, easily accessible land.
In addition to needing space for multiple gas pumps, each store also needs room for one or two drive-thrus, indoor and outdoor seating areas and indoor kitchen space.
"Our average store is up to 6,700 square feet now," Hazelet said.
However, Hazelet said that the publicity surrounding Sheetz's aggressive expansion throughout the state has led to more people calling the company to offer up potential sites for consideration.
"It's a big state and we think there's a lot of opportunity there yet," Hazelet said. "We would like to get enough land lined up so we could schedule a half dozen new store openings a year in West Virginia.