Mar 19, 2024 - Food and Drink

Philly's favorite soft pretzel shop set to re-open

Fresh pretzels from Center City Soft Pretzel Co., left, and  Erika Tonelli Bonnett, far right, with her late father, Tony.

Fresh pretzels from Center City Soft Pretzel Co., left, and Erika Tonelli Bonnett, far right, with her late father, Tony Tonelli. Photos: Courtesy of Erika Tonelli Bonnett

After two twisting years, the Center City Soft Pretzel Co. is soft-reopening next week.

Why it matters: Philly loves its warm pretzels! And Center City — one of the largest bakeries in the region — has been closed since a fire tore through it in 2022.

What they're saying: "This put a strain on my life, my family, like you cannot imagine," says Erika Tonelli Bonnett, who admits to growing tired of telling eager customers "soon" whenever they'd ask when the shop in the Italian Market would reopen.

Catch up quick: Bonnett's father, Tony Tonelli, founded the pretzel landmark more than four decades ago.

  • She worked at the bakery for 17 years and then inherited it when her father grew ill. He died in September 2021.
  • About a year after his death, an electrical fire ripped through the bakery, damaging electrical panels and an extruder that shapes dough.

Zoom in: Customers have pined for the bakery's return while Bonnett says she's been battling lawyers and insurers over how to cover the damages.

  • Then, construction delays.

Ultimately, she tells Axios she dug into her own savings to get the shop in order.

  • Yes, but: She was hesitant to give Axios an exact soft-opening date, fearing another last-minute snag.

Bonnett says she teared up baking a batch of pretzels over the weekend during a test run.

  • "This place became a sibling to us — a very needy sibling at times," she says. "I feel [my dad] in here, I smell him in here. He built this place. This is the legacy he left behind."

What's next: Bonnett says customers should keep tabs on the bakery's Instagram for updates on a firm reopening date.

  • Once back open, the shop will resume shipping pretzels across the U.S. with the help of Goldbelly.
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