It was a random Thursday afternoon in August, a week or so after it opened, when I stopped at the Philly Pretzel Factory in Smithtown. The line was out the door, so I considered leaving and returning later.
Intrigued, though, I passed the time watching an assembly line of six workers serving up freshly baked traditional pretzels, plus pretzel dogs, pepperoni melts and cheesesteak rivets.
A few minutes later, co-owner Roy Arguelles greeted me at the counter. It was he and co-owner Ken Anderson, who’ve been friends for 20-plus years, that turned a space once devoted to a Napa Auto Parts into Suffolk County’s first Pretzel Factory.
Arguelles said he and Anderson “always thought of a side investment,” but they weren’t sure what type of business to open. “Friends would always suggest a smoke shop … It was a tough [decision], but we wanted something unique, something that Suffolk didn’t have."
"We never knew pretzels. We sat in a week of boot camp, and now here we are, pretzel connoisseurs,” he said.
Aside from a traditional menu, the partners plan to serve unique items like braided wreath-shaped pretzels and mini bagels, both of which they hope will be popular on the catering menu. Bagels will also eventually be available at the shop’s counter during breakfast (starting at 9 a.m. while supplies last). Flavors include salt, sesame, poppy seed and everything; cream cheese or butter is included.
The outlet sells traditional 7½-inch-long pretzels for $1; five for $3. Specialty pretzels, including rivet shakers, pretzel dogs and cheesesteak rivets, start at $2.50.
Dips and drinks start at 75 cents and $1.50, respectively.
Philly Pretzel Factory at 314 Maple Ave. in Smithtown is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Its neighbors include Mexican restaurant Salsa Salsa, Monte's Pizzeria and Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices.
Other independently owned Philly Pretzel franchises are in Bellmore at 2647 Jerusalem Ave., 516-679-3000; Massapequa, 5099 Merrick Rd., 516-797-6000; Franklin Square, 197 Franklin Ave., 516-407-3300; and Syosset, 331 Jackson Ave.; 516-677-0021.