PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Not that long ago, a gas station was a gas station — a place to fill up and hit the road — but now the convenience stores attached are almost as popular and important.

“They’re more than gas stations. They’re restaurants. They provide great, fresh, quality meals,” Louie Sheetz, one of the brothers who owns Sheetz, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Around here, Sheetz set the bar on convenience store extravagance.

Now, Giant Eagle is raising it — expanding their GetGo’s into attractive convenience stores with made-to-order salads, burgers and sandwiches.

Customers like the competition.

“I like the environment in here because I’m on the go, get gas and everything I need for lunch, and get going,” said Ben Palumbo of Canfield, Ohio.

Location is key for many as to which store they use.

“Yeah, it depends on the location. If I’m closer to a Sheetz than a GetGo, I’ll go to a Sheetz,” noted Jim May of Brentwood.

Sheetz said his company welcomes the competition.

“We are pleased to see other retailers like GetGo — and they do a very nice job — making serious efforts into fresh prepared foods and beverages. We need as an industry to lift the old reputation that convenience stores sell nothing but day-old products or unfresh products.”

In many ways, the convenience stores that Sheetz and GetGo have created are very much alike, but there are also some differences. For example, the GetGo in the North Hills features sushi to go.

Sushi? Well, it does appeal to a certain type of foodie!

But both convenience chains know that gasoline prices drive customers, which is why Sheetz and GetGo are engaged in a gas war in Bethel Park, matching prices at $3.34 a gallon.

And with 187 GetGo locations in our area, Sheetz is moving fast to catch up.

But where they’ll expand next is a closely held secret.

“There are an awful lot of sites in the works in southwestern Pennsylvania, in the Pittsburgh market, and we’re anxious to get more open,” said Sheetz.

Guaranteeing convenience store wars for years to come.

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