The Sheetz location on University Avenue will close in June, a Sheetz representative confirmed to The Cavalier Daily Friday morning.
“After a great deal of consideration, Sheetz has decided to permanently close its store location along University Avenue in Charlottesville, Va,” Sheetz Public Relations Manager Nick Ruffner said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “We anticipate a June closure date and apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers.”
Sheetz first announced the construction of its University Avenue location in January 2017 and the store opened its doors Sept. 28, 2017. Unlike most Sheetz, the Corner location was a Sheetz cafe, meaning it hosted tables, free wifi and kiosks to order customized food but no gas pumps.
At the time of its opening, the location was only the fourth Sheetz cafe in the U.S., with three other locations near college campuses in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Today, there are six Sheetz cafe locations, but according to local real estate investor Jerry Miller, all six cafe locations will be closing as they do not produce as much revenue as locations that sell gas.
When rising fifth-year College student Sarandon Elliott first heard about the closing, she was “pretty upset.” Given that the store provided fast, affordable food options for students, Elliot was worried that the loss of this option would negatively impact students who relied upon it for cheap food.
“I definitely think it’s a hit to students, probably the cheapest option on the Corner, and there were so many choices it’s hard to compete, especially with students’ and workers’ busy schedules,” Elliot said. “I think in a town like Charlottesville where living costs are so high it’s definitely going to leave many looking for fast and cheap food.”
For many University students, Sheetz was a go-to place for easy food and beverage options, regardless of the time of day. Unlike other Corner restaurants, the cafe was open 24 hours, which meant that students could grab food there for breakfast, lunch, dinner or after late nights at the library or out partying. On most weekend nights, anyone driving by the Corner could see students waiting for food outside the store.
Beyond just improving financial accessibility and convenient hours on the Corner, Sheetz also provided affordable food options to those with dietary restrictions, including vegetarians, who faced more limited dining options on the Corner.
Rising third-year College student Monica Do often frequented Sheetz when looking for places to grab food before picnicking on the Lawn with friends, and her favorite memory of the location was when the store saved one of her picnics.
“We had a picnic on the Lawn across from the Corner and we didn’t have anything to drink, so I ran over to Sheetz and grabbed a few things and the cashier greeted me with such kindness,” Do said. “After the picnic, we wanted something sweet, and I knew Sheetz had some milkshake and cookies. Overall, the picnic wouldn’t have been complete with little things from Sheetz.”
Much like Do, rising fourth-year Sam Beidler had fond memories of Sheetz and was shocked when he learned about the impending closure. For him, visiting Sheetz always surprised him since he’d really never know what he’d see there until he arrived.
“I can’t really capture how much my roommate and I relied on that place for late night food,” Beidler said. “At least two times a week we’d spontaneously head there at 3 a.m. More than anything, I’ll miss the fights. At a posh school like U.Va., Sheetz provided a place to see the real side of people at night.”
Elliot also noted how Sheetz was often a meeting place for students on Grounds. During Zoom classes, she loved going to the store since she would usually run into someone she knew.
Despite the June closing date, Ruffner stressed that Sheetz appreciates the support the Charlottesville community has given the location, including that of its workers, and that the company will continue to invest in the community.
“Sheetz is incredibly appreciative of our employees and customers in Charlottesville,” Ruffner said. “This decision was not made lightly and while we are disappointed to announce this closure, we remain committed to the community and all employees will be offered jobs at our locations in the area.”
The construction of a new Sheetz is currently underway in Charlottesville — this time off of Airport Road. Unlike the Corner location, the Airport Road location will also host gas pumps.
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Sarandon Elliot as a Class of 2021 alumna. It has been updated to reflect that she is a rising fifth year.