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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Mar. 1, 2019 2 weeks ago

Pretzel company searches for franchisees as it expands further into Florida

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Philly Pretzel Factory has 173 locations.

It serves traditional soft pretzels, mini pretzels, cinnamon pretzels, pretzel dogs — and don’t forget cheesesteak pretzels.

Now Philly Pretzel Factory, with 173 locations, plans to expand further into Florida, setting its sights specifically on Sarasota.

Friends Dan DiZio and Len Lehman founded the Bensalem, Pa.-based company in 1998. DiZio started selling pretzels on a street corner when he was 11 — and he’s been selling pretzels ever since.

Today the vast majority of Philly Pretzel Factory locations are franchises, with stand-alone stores, locations at transportation and entertainment sites and stores within Walmarts all part of the mix.

Philly Pretzel Factory Chief Development Officer Tom Monaghan tells Coffee Talk a significant number of their stores are in the Northeast, with locations throughout 19 states. “We’ve just opened up our first couple of stores on the west coast of Florida,” he says. The company now has locations in Riverview, Winter Park and Naples. Monaghan says, “Now we’re going to fill in and expand up and down west seaboard of Florida.”

The company opens two to three stores every month. The all-in investment to open a Philly Pretzel Factory, Monaghan says, is $290,000. The goal is to find the perfect franchisees — people who can serve as the pretzel mayor of their town.

Sarasota was identified as target area, he says, because of its population growth. “It is one of the fastest-growing spaces in the country,” Monaghan says. “Sarasota, North Port, Bradenton and Venice — they are perfect opportunities for us to have locations.”

Based on population, the company thinks Sarasota could sustain three traditional stores and possibly more nontraditional stores, such as kiosks, stores within other retailers or locations at an airport or stadium. “We’re just starting the recruitment in this marketplace,” Monaghan says. The goal, he adds, is to have stores open in the area by the end of the year.

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