Although Wetzel’s Pretzels — the Pasadena, Calif.-based soft pretzel chain — may have gotten its start in mall food courts, CEO Jennifer Schuler is pushing the company to new frontiers, like sports and entertainment arenas, food trucks, and military bases.
In this episode of Extra Serving, Schuler — the brand’s former president who was named CEO of Wetzel’s Pretzels in January when co-founder Bill Phelps stepped down – discusses the forward momentum of the company. From focusing on footprint growth across the country to experimenting with 15-minute pretzel delivery, Wetzel’s Pretzels is aiming to move out from the shadow of classic suburban mall.
“This year was working outside the bounds of traditional mall business and I can see continuing to extend that with licensed products and merchandise,” Schuler said. “That’s what you can expect in 2020 alongside continued store unit growth. We have a lot of room [to expand] across the country.”
But growth is not just about physical store numbers: Schuler is also leading the way for Wetzel’s to keep up with the culinary zeitgeist. The company has experimented with new Instagrammable pretzel and drink innovations in 2019, including a flavor burst Boba frozen lemonade, and the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos pretzel with jalapeño cheese sauce. Wetzel’s Pretzels has also started testing delivery with the aid of a ghost kitchen which allows for speedier delivery of hot pretzels.
“Our delivery ticket is 60% higher than our in-store ticket and a lot of the sales happen on the weekdays, whereas mall business is always on weekends,” Schuler said. “If we can layer delivery to help costs during the weekday it becomes better for franchisees.”
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