May 16, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A Queens couple opened the borough’s first Philly Pretzel Factory in Forest Hills last week, following two months of delays due to COVID-19.
Corona residents Jose and Nancy Villa opened their Philadelphia-based franchise Friday and are finally serving up the company’s signature hand-twisted pretzels and other popular dishes.
The new eatery, located at 118-14 Queens Blvd., was scheduled to launch on March 16 but the spread of COVID-19 undermined their initial plans.
“It has been a difficult time but we are happy to be open at last,” Nancy Villa said.
The state’s PAUSE order permits food joints to provide take-out and delivery. However, due to other COVID-19 issues, they were unable to open.
The couple’s main oven needed to be hooked up by a company specialist before they could open. However, the worker tasked with that job is based outside of New York and could not get there as a result of COVID-19.
The worker was only able to get to the eatery this week, Villa said.
Furthermore, the staff trainer is also based outside of New York and was unable to train the new employees for the same reason, she said.
It left the couple – who are embarking on their first business venture and have three young children – with a heavy financial burden.
Jose, who previously worked for a commercial bank, left his job to work full time on opening the pretzel joint in November. The family had to rely on Nancy’s wage as a public elementary school teacher.
The couple’s landlord provided a two-month moratorium on their rent, which helped ease their economic pain. Nancy said she is relieved that the business is now up and running.
“We were excited and nervous about today but our staff did a wonderful job pulling us through,” she said.
The outlet is now churning out its wide selection of pretzels–including pretzel dogs and pretzel cheesesteaks–which are served with a variety of mustard and flavored dips.
Opening hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Pretzel lovers can either order in-store – while adhering to strict social distancing guidelines – or via the company’s official app. Orders can be picked up curbside or home-delivered.
The new eatery marks Philly Pretzel Factory’s fourth New York City’s location. The company has two other stores in Brooklyn and one joint in Staten Island. Nationwide the franchise boasts more than 170 locations across 17 states.