When Dan DiZio sold pretzels on Roosevelt Boulevard and dreamed of opening his own pretzel bakery, he didn’t know what the word “franchise” meant, or that having one store could ever happen.
But now with 120 locations nationwide, the CEO and co-founder of the Philly Pretzel Factory will be on “Undercover Boss” Friday night (8 p.m., CBS 3). DiZio, 40, said he thinks every CEO should go undercover at his business and see how his employees work.
“I was sleeping on bags of flour when we first opened up, but I became a corporate guy,” DiZio said. “I said, I’m never gonna lose my roots in the pretzel business, but to get caught up in boardrooms and meetings you really do lose touch. I forget how hard it was to go to work at 3 in the morning to make pretzels,” DiZio said.
DiZio and his East Stroudsburg University roommate, Len Lehman, opened their first store at Frankford & Cottman in Mayfair on May 2, 1998. Their corporate office is nearby, and DiZio stops in the flagship location for a pretzel every day. He prefers cream cheese to mustard, but also enjoys his company’s super-hot mustard.
Who are the weirdos who prefer yellow to spicy mustard, we asked. There aren’t many people who use yellow mustard in this area, DiZio said, adding that yellow mustard increases as you get farther from Philadelphia. Speaking of, his farthest store north is Clifton Park, N.Y. He has a store in Pittsburgh and as far south as North Carolina. Most of them are franchises, for which he has created a system and standards.
In celebration of National Pretzel Day Thursday, DiZio says all Philly Pretzel Factory locations will offer one free pretzel to anybody who stops by, and the first 100 visitors to each store will get free pretzels throughout May.