Amish-inspired and oh-so-delicious, the story of how Ben's Soft Pretzel's grew from it's humble farmer's market beginnings to one of the fastest growing quick-serve food companies in the US is quite remarkable. You may even consider it to be divine providence. We absolutely do.
In 2003, Scott Jones (Ben's Pretzels Co-Founder and CEO) was in Amish Country, Indiana conducting ministry visits with a fellow parishioner. Upon getting lost in the countryside, he was pointed in the direction of the Amish Homestead of Ben and Liz Miller (Ben's Pretzels Co-Founders). Ben and Liz invited Scott into their home to give him proper directions to his destination, warm, fresh cookies, and the start of what would be a life-long, prosperous friendship.
After their fortuitous meeting, Ben and Scott began hunting, fishing, and spending time together. Ben also began introducing Scott to the delicious Amish baked goods he and Liz were selling throughout Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan.
Around this time, Ben introduced Scott to the pretzel and Scott's life was too forever changed. Somewhere between Scott's first and second pretzel that he ate consecutively, Scott fell in love with the fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth taste of Ben's pretzels. He recalls it to be an "emotional, life-changing experience." He knew there was something special about this pretzel and he had to share his experience. He introduced his friend and co-worker at the time, Brian Krider (Ben's Pretzels Co-Founder and COO) to the pretzel who instantly fell in love at first bite.
True foodies and entrepreneurs themselves, Brian and Scott knew that the pretzel that Ben and Liz had come up with was too good not to be shared so they began wholesaling the pretzel frozen to various grocery stores and big box stores.
One day Brian had an epiphany. What if they built a business around the fresh-baked pretzel? What if their mission was to spread blessing and prosperity throughout the world one pretzel at a time?
Although no longer a part of the Amish church, Ben and Liz Miller own several Ben's Pretzels bakeries and head up all research and development of new products. Meanwhile, Brian and Scott lead the charging on growing Ben's Soft Pretzels into "Global Pretzel Domination".
The Ben's Soft Pretzels story is far from finished, rather it's just beginning. Be sure to follow us on social media to keep in touch!
One place they were selling their Amish baked goods was the South Bend Farmer's Market. Next to their booth was a small pretzel company whom was looking to sell their business. The company approached Ben and Liz about purchasing their business, knowing their were successful Amish bakers. Ben and Liz had never really had a pretzel and had no interest in buying the business. But the pretzel company owner persisted and eventually convinced Ben and Liz to buy the business. A challenge instantly arose, as at the closing of the sale of the business Ben and Liz realized they were not buying the recipe or the former name of the business, they were purchasing only the equipment.
The entrepreneurial drive kicked and combined with some divine inspiration, Ben and Liz began scouring their Amish cookbooks to come up with the perfect pretzel recipe. They had to have the recipe ready in 1 week in order to fulfill the obligation of their new booth at the Farmer's Market. The recipe they came up with is the one that we still use today!
Through trial and error and lots of burned pretzels, Ben and Liz began perfecting their pretzel baking skills and their newly acquired pretzel booth began to grow and outpace the sales of the previous owner.
The pretzel was truly delicious and people were raving about it. Brian approached Scott and Ben about building a business around the fresh pretzel and was met with a little bit of skeptical resistance. The pretzel was amazing but could it stand on it's own as a business? After many hours of prayer, research, and brainstorming the trio decided to go for it. They wrote a business plan that including franchising and launched Ben's Soft Pretzels.
Our first brick-and-mortar location opened in 2008 inside the Concord Mall in Elkhart, Indiana and is still operating today. In 2013 we began franchising and as of 2018 we currently have 75 bakeries in eight states. Our Master Lease agreements with Wal-Mart and Meijer allow us to open bakeries in any Wal-Mart or Meijer location in the US with open real estate. We also have partnerships with athletic teams such as the University of Notre Dame, Auburn University, Purdue, Wisconsin, Indiana University, University of Wisconsin, Indiana Pacers, South Bend Cubs and many more. To learn more about our franchising opportunities click here.