Queens native opens borough’s fi rst Philly Pretzel Factory
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
After opening its doors in Forest Hills
for business on May 15, the Philly Pretzel
Factory has received positive reviews
from pretzel lovers in the community.
“Being that something positive is taking
place during a really difficult time
and they see it as a sign of hope when
they visit us. It feels really good to give
them something to smile about,” said
Jose Villa, a former commercial banker
turned franchise owner of the first Philly
Pretzel Factory in Queens.
Together, Villa and his wife, Nancy,
a public elementary school teacher, decided
to open the family-based business
at 118-14 Queens Blvd., serving a traditional
Bavarian pretzel found in Europe
and Germany. The pretzels are baked
fresh daily and serve as a fairly healthy
snack, Villa said.
The company’s menu offers a wide
variety of pretzels such as bite-sized
pretzels dipped in butter and sugar, mini
cheesesteaks melted in a pretzel ball,
pretzel dogs, spicy sausage, a pepperoni
melt pizza, and much more.
Additionally, Villa says he is looking
forward to eventually creating custom
pretzels, especially one for his favorite
baseball team, the New York Mets.
The Philly Pretzel Factory is based
out of Philadelphia with 170 locations nationwide.
The company has four other locations
in New York City with two stores
in Brooklyn, one in Long Island, and another
in Staten Island.
A Queens native, Villa grew up in
Corona and Fresh Meadows and now
resides in Long Island. When given the
option to choose a location in Queens, he
considered Forest Hills due to the accessibility
of public transportation nearby,
“I love the community and there’s
really good transportation here,” Villa
said. “I think of it as the gateway to Manhattan
because the E train is nearby and
the LIRR is only two stops. If I want to develop
business in the city as well, it’s not
too difficult and I can get there.”
According to Villa, construction on
the site began in December and the new
eatery was scheduled to open in March,
but unfortunately, there was a delay due
to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were told by corporate that
it doesn’t make sense to open a store
during a pandemic,” Villa said. “If it
were up to me, I would’ve opened earlier
if possible because a lot of people
with pretzel franchises were using
their business to fundraise and deliver
pretzels to precincts and hospitals. But
unfortunately, we weren’t open and
couldn’t do that.”
Additionally, when Villa received
the main oven for the store it needed to
be hooked up by a company specialist
before they could open. However, the
worker was based outside of New York
TIMESLEDGER |8 QNS.COM | MAY 29-JUNE 4, 2020
The Philly Pretzel Factory, located at 118-14 Queens Blvd., in Forest Hills.
and unable to get there due to COVID-19.
Furthermore, the staff trainer is also
based outside of New York and was unable
to train the new employees.
Since its grand opening with nine
staff members working part-time and
full-time, Villa said they have considered
the importance of everyone’s safety with
social distancing guidelines in place.
It’s strictly takeout and orders can be
placed on the company’s app and other
Photo courtesy of Jose Villa
services such as DoorDash and Postmates
The Philly Pretzel Factory is open
Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to
For updates, check out the Philly
Pretzel Factory on Facebook and Instagram
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by
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