Spotlight: Ben’s Soft Pretzels Turns Old Family Recipe Into a Business

Spotlight: Ben's Soft Pretzels Discovered How to Turn a Family Recipe Into a Business

There are plenty of options out there for snack foods. But the entrepreneurs behind Ben’s Soft Pretzels think their options stand apart from all the rest.

The company uses an old Amish recipe to make huge soft pretzels and other treats. You can learn more about the business and the journey of these entrepreneurs in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells soft pretzels and other menu items.

Scott Jones, CEO and co-founder of Ben’s Soft Pretzels told Small Business Trends, “Ben’s Soft Pretzels is home of the legendary, Amish-inspired Jumbo Soft Pretzels that are nearly twice the size of other soft pretzels and have a fluffy, melt-in-your mouth taste. In addition to Ben’s signature Jumbo Soft Pretzel, we also offer artisan pretzel bites called Buggy Bites, Pretzel Stix, an All-Beef Pretzel Dog, and Pretzel Pocket sandwiches. Customers can pair their fresh baked pretzels with our eleven gourmet dipping sauces including cheese, Amish sweet mustard, and a variety of other options.”

Business Niche

Size and flavor.

Jones says, “Our pretzels are nearly double the size of our competitors and feature a fluffy, melt-in-your mouth flavor that none of our competitors come close to achieving.”

How the Business Got Started

By perfecting an old family recipe.

Jones says, “Ben [Miller, co-founder of Ben’s Soft Pretzels] and his wife, 3rd generation Amish bakers, perfected the Amish/Dutch dough recipe that is used to this day in all Ben’s Soft Pretzels locations. The first Ben’s Soft Pretzels bakery opened in Concord Mall in Elkhart, Ind. and has since grown to 79 locations in eight states.”

Spotlight: Ben's Soft Pretzels Discovered How to Turn a Family Recipe Into a Business

Biggest Win

Partnering with major retailers.

Jones explains, “One of our biggest wins was negotiating and executing our master lease agreement with Walmart and our master license agreement with Meijer. These agreements allow us to open up pretzel bakeries in Walmart and Meijer stores throughout the country.”

Biggest Risk

Buying a building.

Jones says, “We recognized that we were going to need a distribution chain to build our business. However when you are an emerging brand it is tough to get your proprietary products to market without self-distributing. We did this by using small leased warehouse spaces for a few years. Then we decided to buy a building. This was a big investment and risk. If our business didn’t grow we would be saddled with a large real estate purchase. The risk has paid off as we now partner with Gordon Food Services to distribute our proprietary items and have a FDA approved kitchen to produce them in. We will continue to use the building for years to come.”

Lesson Learned

Training is paramount.

Jones says, “When we first started franchising, we would have provided a more comprehensive training program for our employees and franchise partners. I think those “pioneers” who were early to our business helped us get better quickly and we now have those processes in place.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Supporting Franchisees.

Jones explains, “I would spend it on a system like “Profit Mastery” for our franchise partners to better understand and develop tools to digest the financial reports that are associated with their business. I would also spend any remaining money on a local marketing expert training for our franchise partners. This would allow them to exceed in their communities with local marketing and community involvement.”

Spotlight: Ben's Soft Pretzels Discovered How to Turn a Family Recipe Into a Business

Favorite Quote

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” — Helen Keller

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Ben’s Soft Pretzels, Facebook

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.