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Friday, October 13, 2017

Pretzel Pretzel, 'Home of the Stuffed Pretzel,' Now Open in Affton

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 8:02 AM

click to enlarge Pretzel Pretzel is now open in Affton. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Pretzel Pretzel is now open in Affton.

For a combined total of 25 years, Damon Daher and Tony Simmons have been working in the pretzel wholesale business while quietly developing a proprietary technique to make the best pretzel this city has even seen. On October 1, those dreams were realized when the partners opened Pretzel Pretzel (9614 Gravois Road, Affton; 314-631-8000), a small pretzel shop in Affton that pushes the idea of what is possible with twisted bread.

"We've been perfecting the recipe and technique for years, and now seemed like the right time to go for it," Daher says. "We've traveled all over the place, worked with experienced bakers and had to search the country for the right equipment. After some trial and error, we think we've gotten it right."

Daher and Simmons met in the pretzel wholesale and distribution business and became instant friends after they discovered their shared passion for the malty twists. They often talked about opening their own shop but did not want to do so until they were certain they had the best product they could create.

"Being in the business, we understand the importance of a product that stays fresh," Simmons explains. "Our proprietary techniques not only make our pretzels softer, but also allows them to stay fresh longer."

click to enlarge Pretzel Pretzel serves a variety of stuffed pretzels, nuggets and traditional twists. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Pretzel Pretzel serves a variety of stuffed pretzels, nuggets and traditional twists.

As soon as you feast your eyes on the glass display case that contains Pretzel Pretzel's mouthwatering wares, you realize that their efforts have paid off. As Daher and Simmons explain, their pretzels are New York-style, meaning pillow-soft and golden, and dressed with a generous amount of coarse salt. Traditional twisted pretzels have a squat look to them, while the pretzel nuggets are so fluffy and glistening, they look like beignets.

"We wanted to call them 'fresh hot pillows of lusciousness,' but that wouldn't fit on the menu," Daher says. "So we had to settle on the term 'nugget' out of linguistic convenience."

The pretzels and nuggets are alone worth a trip, but Pretzel Pretzel aims to set itself apart from its competitors by introducing St. Louis to the stuffed pretzel. About the size of a demi-baguette but slightly pouffier, Daher and Simmons fill their stuffed pretzels with everything from salsiccia to hot dogs to their signature house-roasted beef, onion, bell pepper and cream cheese-filled Philly cheesesteak. "This is the best Philly cheesesteak sandwich in town, period," says Daher. "Pretzel or not. It's just the best."

click to enlarge Damon Daher and Tony Simmons, owners. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Damon Daher and Tony Simmons, owners.

In that spirit, Daher and Simmons look at Pretzel Pretzel not as a pretzel shop but as a restaurant that happens to specialize in pretzels. The operation is mainly takeout-focused, but a window counter allows diners to enjoy their fresh-from-the-oven goodies on site.

In addition to the pretzels and beef, Daher and Simmons make all of their cheese sauces in house. Look for cheddar, salsa-laden quest and fiery hot japaneno cheese. They also serve a variety of mustards to compliment their offerings. They also offer breakfast pretzels and are in the midst of launching a line of dessert pretzels, including a peanut butter, banana and Nutella version called the "Elvis Pretzel-y."

click to enlarge A Cardinals logo pretzel. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • A Cardinals logo pretzel.

On weekends, lines have been wrapped around the building, though no one has complained. Perhaps it's because Daher and Simmons provide their guests with entertainment when they wait — an impromptu show that occurred when they got super busy on opening weekend and needed a festive way to greet all of their well-wishers.

"We think of it sort of like the Fudgery, where they sing and make it a really festive atmosphere," says Simmons. "Tony lost his voice singing so much. I told him he has to stop talking and save it for the weekend."

Daher has a theory on why the place feels like a party. "Pretzels are happy food," he explains. "You eat them at picnics or state fairs or parties or sports events or carnivals. When you're eating a pretzel, you're having a good time."

Pretzel Pretzel keeps those good times rolling Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.

click to enlarge Nuggets, aka "fresh hot pillows of lusciousness." - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Nuggets, aka "fresh hot pillows of lusciousness."

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