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Go Pretzel brings new twist to town

Published: Monday, October 3, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09

GoPretzel

Nicole Chynoweth

Aarie Williams (left) is stamping the wax paper bags that they serve the pretzels in with the Go Pretzel logo. Nick Cargnel (right) is preparing freshly baked pretzels.

Food service-savvy couple Rob and Genalle Day look for business trends in big cities to get ideas for future endeavors.

"We visit different retail stores in different cities to get inspired," Rob, 32, said. "We go to New York City, Philadelphia and D.C., and we figure out what Pittsburgh does not have so that we can bring it [here]."

That process helped Rob and Genalle create the vision for their latest store.

Go Pretzel is a pretzel shop that caters to people looking for something to munch on while they are on-the-go. Located at 807 Liberty Ave., Go Pretzel offers customers several pretzel flavors and coordinating dips to satisfy sweet and salty cravings.

"We felt that Downtown needed a pretzel shop," Rob said in a phone interview last Thursday. "There is no place to get a good pretzel Downtown, so we thought we would fill that niche."

Picking the location was easy for Rob and Genalle.

"We own two other stores on Liberty Avenue: Pittsburgh Popcorn Company and Sweetlix Tart Frozen Yogurt," Rob said. "We like the Cultural District and the visual that Liberty Avenue has. It's a high-traffic street."

Naming the establishment also came with ease.

"We looked at the space, and it is so small," Rob said. "There is no sit-down area. It's definitely a to-go place, and pretzels are a quick, one-hand snack for lunch on-the-go, so Go Pretzel sounded perfect. We want to give a sense of movement. We even have some old bus signs hanging up on the walls to give customers that sense of movement and going somewhere."

Rob and Genalle sifted through multiple recipes before settling on Go Pretzel's signature ingredients.

"We have a manager, Sarah Dehler, who is our head baker," Rob said, who worked with Dehler to develop the Go Pretzel taste. "We just played around and experimented to find our recipe. It was trial and error."

After six months of planning, Go Pretzel opened last month with a menu consisting of toasted almond and cinnamon sugar pretzels for customers looking for a way to appease their sweet tooth. For an appetite seeking savory flavors, pepperoni and cheese, jalapeno and cheese, salted original and pretzel dogs await consumption.

"We learned from the popcorn busines that sometimes you want something sweet and sometimes you want something salty," Rob said, who personally enjoys the salted original. "We thought more options would help us appeal to more people."

Pretzels range in price from $2.69 to $2.99, depending on the flavor. Go Pretzel also has several dips to make customers' pretzel experience even more delectable. For 79 cents, customers can enjoy dijon mustard, cheddar cheese, sweet glaze, dutch chocolate, Nutella or sweet and hot mustard with their twisted, doughy treat.

"Right now we're working on creating ‘flavors of the day'," Rob said of Go Pretzel's evolving menu. "This week's flavor is pumpkin spice. We are just experimenting with different flavors and different toppings."

For those who want to make their Go Pretzel visit really count, boxes of six pretzels can be bought for $15.74. Employee Aarie Williams, 25, of Pittsburgh, tends to reach for the sweet varieties.

"My favorite is the toasted almond," Williams said at the store last Wednesday. "It's not overly sweet. It just has a really good flavor."

The scent of baking pretzel dough can be detected upon passing the store. Its front window is covered in Go Pretzel's logo, announcing its presence in red and black bold font. The decor inside consists of colorful drawings of young Dutch girls eating pretzels, wooden crates, and black and white photographs of old-fashioned pretzel carts and salesmen hung on the red brick walls. The menu is displayed on a chalkboard, describing the pretzels that sit warm in a lighted display case on a wooden countertop.

Williams stresses that Go Pretzel is not the type of pretzel most are used to eating.

"It beats any pretzel you could buy in a mall," Williams said, who describes customers' behavior like that of "little kids in a candy store" when they enter Go Pretzel. "I just tell [customers] to take their time and let it all sink in."

According to Rob, the Go Pretzel staff has received mostly pleased reviews from customers as of late.

"People have been pretty positive and excited so far," Rob said. "We've had customers tell us they have been waiting for a pretzel shop to open Downtown."

Nichole Dumas of Pittsburgh stopped in the store last Friday to check out the menu.

"This is the first time I've been here," Dumas said, who ordered the pumpkin spice pretzel. "It's nice that new things are popping up in Downtown. The service was good, and [the employees] were very polite."

For now, the Go Pretzel staff is aiming to fix any kinks before setting out to achieve any other goals, according to Rob.

"We're taking it one day at a time to get everything perfect for right now," Rob said. "For right now, we're just focusing on adding new flavors and just expanding the menu."

To learn more about Go Pretzel's treats, call (412) 261-3790.

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