TRAVERSE CITY — Petoskey Pretzel Co. sells its artisan pretzels as fast as it can bake them.
That’s on a typical day. On National Pretzel Day it sold 700 of the soft-baked treats, said co-owner Lisa Kaniewski.
So it’s no surprise that Kaniewski and co-owner Dave Reppen plan to open a second store, this time in downtown Traverse City. The store will feature the same all-natural pretzels and signature pretzel items plus 15 dips, sauces and condiments with which to drench them.
“We have people telling us ours are the best pretzels 20 states over,” said Reppen, who is overseeing the renovation of the new shop on Union Street in the former Peninsula Studios space.
The pretzels are crafted from house-made dough: a secret recipe, said Kaniewski, the only one allowed to mix it.
"It's more of an artisan pretzel than a Bavarian pretzel," she said. "It has a unique flavor."
Customers will be able to watch staff cut, roll and twist the pretzels before they’re dipped in butter, sprinkled with salt from Utah salt flats and baked on stones in aluminum pans made especially for the company.
“The bottom of the pretzel is kind of crispy-crunchy, with butter and salt on top,” Kaniewski said.
Favorite pretzel flavors include Original, Jalapeno Cheddar, Cinnamon & Sugar, and Sour Cream & Chive. All can be paired with dips, sauces and condiments such as Mabs’ Atomic Mustard, Hot Caramel, Jalapeno Popper and Garlicky Cream Cheese — another secret recipe from Kaniewski’s Polish family.
Signature items include Cheese Pretza – mozzarella cheese wrapped in pretzel — Pepperoni Pretza — pepperoni and mozzarella wrapped in pretzel — Pretzel Dilly — a Claussen Kosher Dill Deli-Style pickle spear wrapped in pretzel — and Pretzel Frankfurter — an all-beef Dearborn frank wrapped in pretzel.
Hint: try the Cheese Pretza with marinara sauce, Kaniewski said.
The store also sells pretzel buns and offers other items in season, such as soups, chili and apple pockets in the fall and winter. Specialty pretzel flavors like Pumpkin and Apple Pie also make seasonal appearances.
Kaniewski said the Traverse City store will feature a counter with Petoskey-stone inlays and a cherrywood bar and stools, which will double as outdoor seating in the summer. But most people prefer to grab the pretzels and go.
“It’s foot food,” she said, noting that the treats are served in sleeves.
Like its Petoskey sister, the TC store will feature a schoolhouse theme in honor of Kaniewski’s long-time career as a high school math and science teacher. Customers who solve a daily algebra problem posted on a chalkboard will get a chance to win a “Get Twisted” T-shirt.
The couple plans a soft opening over the busy Fourth of July weekend. Kaniewski said the Petoskey store can turn out 32 pretzels in eight minutes, a number the Traverse City store will be able to top with the help of two rolling counters, a manager and eight to 10 employees.
Prices range from $3.29 for an Original pretzel to $4.29 for a Pepperoni Pretza, with dips an extra 99 cents each. Combos — an Original pretzel, a dip of choice and a drink (think frozen drinks, Coca-Cola fountain products, lemonade, and iced tea and coffee) — are $4.87.
Kaniewski said the couple plans to roll out a home bake kit in the fall in time for the holidays.
“We try to provide the best customer service and to make it fun,” Reppen said.