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SMC and Notre Dame couple to open pretzel store in South Bend

| Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Students will have an additional food option this spring with the opening of a Philly Pretzel Factory location in South Bend.

Maryse Naman, a Saint Mary’s 1996 graduate, said she and her husband decided to open a franchise in South Bend because they wanted to bring a slice of their home in New England back to Notre Dame.

“Being from New Jersey, I loved the product because we were around it a lot,” she said. “So we wanted to bring something new, but also something which we consider home … out to the Midwest. Because the company is not this far out west yet.”

Mark Naman, Notre Dame class of 1996 and a former member of the office of development, said the low cost for a Philly Pretzel Factory product sets the franchise apart from other pretzel companies.

“You go to an Auntie Anne’s or a Ben’s Pretzel, it’s a little bit of a different experience where you’re going to buy a pretzel and pay $3.50, or whatever it is,” he said. “The Philly Pretzel is designed more to be a mass pretzel purchase that you can share with a lot of people. … The idea is, for a very low cost, you get a lot of these high-quality bread pretzels to share with your friends, which is a huge benefit, I think, and it’s great for students.”

In addition to products ranging from traditional pretzels to Philly cheesesteak pretzels, Mark Naman said, the Philly Pretzel Factory offers pretzel trays and catering for events such as tailgates.

“We expect that, locally, our biggest days of the year are going to be when we have home football games,” he said. “So we do plan to have ways for people to pick up their pretzel trays for their tailgate, as well.”

The Namans also plan on getting students from the Notre Dame community involved with distribution, Maryse Naman said.

“We have a lot of aspirations in terms of expanding and involving [students] all throughout the course of the year,” she said. “But, specifically, I would say the highest volume you get on campus in one day would be football season. And we do have some ideas in our heads as to how to get the student body involved on a football Saturday, early in the morning.”

Mark Naman said the franchise could also provide fundraising opportunities for students.

“Part of the appeal of the product for us is it’s not just going to be sold in our store,” he said. “We do wholesale deals and other things where, for example, we could sell them at a pretty deep discount to the dorms for their ability to sell them and make money off them. So if a dorm wants to buy … a couple hundred pretzels for a given day and sell them, they get to keep the profits for their dorm.”

Mark Naman said he and his wife will reach out to various student groups in the Notre Dame community to contribute to any fundraising efforts.

“We will plan to do some outreach from that perspective,” he said. “Hopefully to the … Hall Presidents Council [and] hopefully some other groups on campus. Even just student groups who want to do fundraising — if they want to sell pretzels to make money, that’s a possibility and that’s definitely part of what we do with the product.”

Mark Naman said, as of now, students can expect the location to open before the end of the spring semester.

“Early to mid-April is the target right now,” he said. “Maybe a little bit before, a little bit after, [but] we’d love to be open before the Blue and Gold game, and before the students leave campus in early May.”

The Namans are also hoping to allow students to use Domer Dollars at their location, which will be across from The Linebacker Lounge in Edison Plaza, Mark Naman said.

“I’ve started the conversation to figure out what it would take to get Domer Dollars,” he said. “We’re not all the way in yet on an answer on it, but we want to accept Domer Dollars and I’m pretty certain it’s going to be fairly easy to do.”

The Namans’ ultimate goal, Maryse Naman said, is to provide quality products for the Notre Dame and South Bend communities.

“Being that we both went to Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame … the biggest relationship that we can have with Notre Dame and the students, the better,” she said. “We were both students there, so we want them to be very happy with the product.”

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a senior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, who recently wrapped up her year as Editor-in-Chief. She is a former resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

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