I grab a bottle of yellow mustard and carefully top a warm, salted soft pretzel with squiggles of it at The Pretzel Bakery, a Capitol Hill-based eatery that opened its second location—in Potomac’s Cabin John Village—in April. A first bite takes me back instantly to my early childhood in Philadelphia when my mother, born and raised there, introduced the treat to my siblings and me as a mandatory rite of passage. That combination of carb-y warmth, saltiness, malty sweetness and acid proved to be soul-satisfying.
The bakery’s menu features warm pretzels (salted, everything or cinnamon-glazed, $2.50); everything pretzel-encased Hebrew National beef hot dogs, $6; pretzel bombs (spherical Nutella-filled pretzel rolls topped with cinnamon glaze, $3); breakfast sliders (bacon, scrambled egg and cheddar cheese on an everything pretzel roll, $3.75); and calzones (filled with mozzarella, ricotta and Romano cheeses and either roasted red peppers or pepperoni, $8.50). Dips, such as beer cheese, cream cheese and Nutella, are available for $1. Gulden’s Spicy Brown and French’s Yellow mustard are offered for free.
The business is the brainchild of Silver Spring resident Sean Haney, who co-owns the 800-square-foot establishment with Chad Anthony, who lives in Potomac. Haney had come to D.C. in 1998 to work for Marriott after earning a bachelor’s degree in hotel management from Penn State University. Working 80-hour weeks drained the love of the restaurant business from him, and he went to work for an IT firm, where he met and became friends with Anthony. He showed Anthony a business plan he had written for a pretzel shop, and Anthony thought it was a great concept. They opened The Pretzel Bakery in a 400-square-foot space on Capitol Hill in 2012, selling 700 pretzels on the first day from a Dutch door. In 2016, they relocated to a 1,700-square-foot space up the street.
“Coming from Philly, you miss the creature comforts of home. Pretzels for me were that,” Haney says. “The first stop I’d make visiting my parents was to get some pretzels.” He decided if he couldn’t find them in D.C., he might as well make them himself. He experimented over and over, finally coming up with the winning dough (flour, salt, yeast, sugar and water) that he handrolls and shapes into twisted pretzels that rise overnight in the refrigerator before being boiled briefly and then baked.
Haney and Anthony had been looking for a second location for eight years. They chose the Cabin John Village space because Haney, who frequented the shopping center, knew it to be busy. They signed with Edens, the landlord, in April 2021. “Grab-and-go is what we do,” Haney says, “and that is pandemic-proof. Our pretzels already came in brown paper to-go bags.” The space has no indoor seating. There are two small benches in front of the store, perfect for a soft landing.
The Pretzel Bakery, 7961 Tuckerman Lane (Cabin John Village), Potomac, 301-242-3539, thepretzelbakery.com
Restaurant comings & goings
Two vendors have been announced for Commas food hall, which is planning a summer opening in Silver Spring: Gaithersburg-based DMV Empanadas and Trini Vybez, which specializes in Trinidadian fare.
Thai food chain Tara Thai closed its location at rio in Gaithersburg temporarily early in the year, but never reopened and is now permanently closed. Restaurateurs Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks, who own Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring, announced plans to open a steakhouse in that location by the end of the year.
The owners of Amalfi Ristorante Italiano announced on Facebook that they are looking to relocate later this year out of Montgomery County after 45 years in Rockville and that they are selling “both the building and for the right price even the Amalfi name, including all of our recipes.”
Also in Rockville, Baronessa Italian Restaurant closed in April.
Lahinch Tavern and Grill in Potomac’s Cabin John Village closed in May.