For a treat that’s so widely loved, a good soft pretzel is hard to find. These salty knots of doughy goodness haven’t saturated the Long Island snack market just yet, meaning that pretzel enthusiasts usually have to make the hike to the mall, a baseball stadium or summer fair to satisfy their taste buds.
But Joe Russo is hoping to change that trend, with the recent opening of the Philly Pretzel Factory in Massapequa Park. Since opening on April 30, the Merrick Road franchise of the Pennsylvania-based company has been serving up pretzels, pretzel dogs and more to the twisted masses of the south shore.
This is Russo’s second Philly Pretzel Factory location, coming just three years after the opening of his inaugural store in Bellmore in 2015. As a full-time New York City firefighter, Russo noted that he was looking for a side gig when he entered the pretzel business.
“I was looking to do something as a side venture,” he said. “I wanted to take on something we don’t have out here on Long Island and bring people something we don’t have.”
A North Massapequa native, Russo said Massapequa was the perfect place to open his second store.
“It’s a great town and has a lot of people. A lot of our customer base [at Bellmore] came from Massapequa and I wanted to cover my territory and the south shore,” Russo said. “I wanted to captivate that audience to the east and move slowly to Suffolk County.”
Pretzels are twisted by hand and made fresh every day. Among the most popular items are the mini pretzel dogs—the smaller version of the All Beef Dietz and Watson hot dog wrapped in a pretzel with melted American cheese—as well as the pretzel cheesesteak and cinnamon pretzels. Though good on their own, the pretzels get an extra boost of flavor with dips, including cheese, cinnamon and spicy hot mustard. The location also offers party trays.
Philly Pretzel Factory is located at 5099 Merrick Rd. in Massapequa Park, across from John J. Burns Park. To find out more, call 516-797-6000.