Sheetz, a chain of convenience stores known for its passionately loyal fans, will open one of its first central Ohio stores in Delaware.

The company’s plan was reviewed March 4 by Delaware’s planning commission, and Delaware City Council members gave it a first reading March 9.

The project would allow construction and operation of a Sheetz restaurant, drive-through and gas station at 700 Sunbury Road, just west of Glennwood Commons.

The roughly 4.8-acre site was the location of the former Delaware Marine as well as U Roll It Tobacco shop, which has relocated to U.S. Route 23 North.

Those buildings would be razed to make room for a 6,007-square-foot building, eight gasoline pumps and 47 parking spaces. Skilken Gold Real Estate Development is the applicant.

The lots are zoned community business district and general business district.

Sheetz in December announced plans to open its first central Ohio location by spring 2021. In February, that first store was revealed to be in Obetz in southeastern Franklin County.

Now, the stores closest to Columbus are in Zanesville and Cambridge.

Frank Petruziello, Skilken’s president of development, told the commission Sheetz’s emphasis is as a restaurant, not a gas station.

He said the company was founded about 50 years ago as a food business and started selling fuel “as a service to our customers,” similar to the way Kroger and other companies added fuel sales.

Sheetz is popular among its customers, Petruziello told the commission.

“There may be Sheetz freaks amongst you who know all about it,” he said.

A loyal group patronizes Sheetz, he said, and “a passion (is) associated with its customers.”

Sheetz has about 600 stores in Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, including northeastern Ohio, he said.

“We’re a restaurant. We have indoor dining,” he said, plus a full kitchen with eight to 10 employees on hand during business hours.

The food is not prepared in advance, but made to order, he said. The menu includes pizza, Mexican fare, subs and burgers.

Sheetz uses a phone app that allows customers to order in advance and pick up their food when they arrive at the restaurant, Petruziello said.

Food also can be ordered in the restaurant – which seats about 30 people – or at the drive-through, which he described as another convenience for the customers that represents only about 10% of Sheetz’s food sales.

Sheetz customers use touch screens to order food both at the drive-through and dining area, Petruziello said.

Patrons pick up their food when their ticket number is called; there is no wait staff, he said.

The business is “very much a restaurant with typical beverages and snacks ... a much more friendly, human kind of place that, yes, happens to have fuel pumps outside,” he said.

By combining the two lots, Petruziello said, Sheetz will eliminate one of the existing curb cuts on Sunbury Road.

A city planning and zoning report attached to the planning commission’s meeting agenda said Sheetz will be left with two curb cuts for right-in, right-out access along Sunbury Road, plus a full-movement entrance on the adjacent Mill Run Crossing.

City planning director Dave Efland said traffic leaving Sheetz would use Mill Run to cross Sunbury Road to the north.

The applicant will have to perform a traffic-impact study that must be approved by the city engineer before the plans are authorized by City Council.