The owner of Rolf's Deli and Sausages in Northport has teamed up with a local entrepreneur to open a pretzel business called Pretzel Guyz.

IN THE BEGINNING...

After becoming a regular customer, Robert Shoemaker, a local entrepreneur and Pretzel Guyz co-owner, says that he presented Rolf Meyer with the business opportunity.

"It just started with coming in every now and then and ordering something from them and trying it, and we just kind of developed a relationship over time," Shoemaker said. "And I've got a small group that we have on Thursdays, and I started getting pretzels for it pretty often, and everybody just thought the pretzels were excellent."

Shoemaker thought Meyer could seriously benefit from spearheading a business focused solely on his pretzels, and when he presented Meyer with the idea, Meyer thought it would be worth it to give it a shot.

"We kind of started out slow ... He obviously is the baker, so I went out to find different ways that we could sell pretzels. It's starting to take off pretty well and a lot of gas stations, some of the restaurants downtown will get them for game day. So we've been in Rama Jama's, Loosa Brews, Innisfree and stuff like that."

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Currently, Pretzel Guyz mainly operates by selling their pretzels in gas stations, but restaurants and individuals can also place their own orders. Pretzel Guyz are available in several Chevron stations in the Tuscaloosa area and other gas station brands in Brookwood and Fayette.

BUMPS IN THE ROAD

Shoemaker said, in the beginning, it was difficult to find out how to keep the pretzels fresh and on display, but the men are working to find a creative solution to keep their product perfectly preserved.

"Rolf had a pretzel heater," Shoemaker said. "And he said, 'They're no good; they're pretzel dryers.' They don't stay fresh for very long, so I immediately went to thinking about how you could solve the problem to put them on display but not heat them up where they're hard as a rock by the end of the day.

After experimenting with a refrigerator, Shoemaker found that the pretzels will stay fresh for two weeks or more. Now, all the pretzels are kept are coolers so they will stay fresh.

According to Shoemaker, employees at the gas stations heat the pretzels in the microwave when they are ordered and serve them in a biodegradable wrapper, so there is no waste.

Shoemaker says that because Meyer's pretzels contain no preservatives, it makes them harder to keep fresh, but he also loves that the pretzels don't contain preservatives.

WHAT'S ON THE MENU?

Pretzel Guyz offers four flavors: traditional, bacon and cheese, cinnamon sugar and their newest flavor: everything but the bagel.

Meyer says they will need more space to produce the pretzels in the future and they plan to expand the business into a brick-and-mortar store by the end of 2022.

"I think what we need in the future will be more production area," Meyer said. "We also [want] to work toward events like the Kentuck Art Festival, Oktoberfest, and city [events at] Government Plaza. Therefore, it takes a certain amount of time to plan and expand the production area because this here will be pretty soon too small."

Shoemaker says that when they expand, they plan to have at least 10 to 15 flavors. Both Shoemaker and Meyer say the new building will be for production and a place where people can pick up orders.

Pretzels at the gas stations are on sale for $3.99. A box of 10 costs $27.50, and a box of 20 costs $50.

Anyone interested in placing a private order should contact robert@pretzelguyz.com. For more information, visit the business's website here.

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