A new twist: PretzelHaus Bakery wins raves from exhibs


Happy 2013! Now that a new year has started, many new ideas will be tried. Some will work and others will not. But every company will be looking for ways to improve their operation. One of those ways is trying new products, so I’m going to start off the new year by bringing your attention to a product that is an operational success. If all the new products that fill your expanded menu are taking up your freezer space, then you will find this interesting.

Pretzels are a successful item in the theatre and have been around for quite some time. The trick to successful pretzels has always been quality. Until recently, that either meant fresh product or frozen product, but presenting distribution and storage challenges. But there is a pretzel company that has a solution that may benefit you. PretzelHaus Bakery LLC., created a shelf-stable pretzel that is gaining a lot of momentum in the theatre channel. In fact, some of their customers are just now finally able to sell pretzels because they have a shelf-stable product.

This is a big advantage as theatres struggle with the right balance between adding expanded menus and managing the space and equipment to do so. Ovens that can cook multiple items, items that do not require refrigeration, and items that are fresh are all things that theatres are considering as solutions. The traditional concession stand has not gone away, and pretzels have proven that customers will buy them. The PretzelHaus pretzel is a great product that also provides a solution.

With a shelf-stable pretzel, a theatre no longer needs to use that prime (and expensive) freezer space to be able to offer a hand-twisted and very soft pretzel. You can use the product without the inconvenience of recurring waste. Because they are not frozen, they break much less frequently in the distribution process. Also, they can be warmed in the package and then, if not served that day, reheated the next day. This seems to be one of the biggest cost savings.

PretzelHaus Bakery, LLC was founded in 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati has a strong German heritage and PretzelHaus partnered with a Certified Master Bakery from Cincinnati that happens to be a third-generation family baker that was trained in Germany. Names do not get much more German than Gary Gottenbusch. Gary is also the reigning Cincinnati OctoberFest Keg Rolling champion!

Managing partner Brian Biehn told us, “Through a combination of our innovation and forward-thinking customers, we have begun to have success and so have those valued partners in the industry. All of these benefits would mean very little if the product did not taste as good as or better than the other options our customers have. Fortunately for us, Gary spent countless hours perfecting our product’s taste and texture to meet our customers’ high level of expectation.”

This product meets a lot of requirements that we look for, and of course needs an accompanying beverage. So to complete this report, I reached out to a few of their customers to see what they think about it—and they endorse it with gusto. Brian Nuffer, concessions manager for Goodrich Quality Theaters, told me, “We use PretzelHaus pretzels because they are a high-quality product at an affordable price. Our customers just love them! Always fresh, always delicious.” Ron Krueger, chief operating officer of Southern Theatres, agrees: “Since we switched to the PretzelHaus line a number of years ago, we have been able to deliver our guests a consistently higher-quality pretzel. In addition, we have improved inventory control and waste relative to bulk frozen products.”

Larry Etter, senior VP, theatre services, at Malco Theatres, notes, “Since switching to the PretzelHaus Pretzel, we have reduced our waste and damages by 90%. That translates into enormous savings on the cost side. Because the pretzel comes with its own packaging, a bakery box, we have seen an increase in sales of over 25% in that single item in 12 months.”

Bob Shimmin, Cinemark’s VP, food and beverage, agrees: “This product has allowed us to offer a product that our customers have been asking for in theatres where limited frozen storage capacity would otherwise prevent us from offering such a product. It has been well-received by our guests and has added to our bottom line.”

Last but not least, Kathi Gillman, director of concessions, Starplex Cinemas, adds. “The PretzelHaus pretzel has proven to be a large success both for our guests and with our team members at the theatres. We have had an increase of over 74% in pretzel sales over the previous year, in addition to adding this product to our lineup in theatres where pretzels previously had not been successful. One of the reasons for the popularity is the taste, but it is also because the pretzels are so plump and do not look like they are mass-produced. In our café locations we are able to cook them in our Turbo Chef units in only 12 seconds…fast turnaround for our guests!”

E-mail your comments to Anita Watts at anitaw@reactornet.com.