The Pretzel Bakery, 257 15th Street SE, is a beloved institution in Hill East. Fans old and young have flocked to this corner bakery for ten years (ten years?!) to celebrate, commiserate, start their day or just delight in the perfectly pillowy pastries made with love as an homage to his native Philadelphia by Sean Haney and his team.
Don’t worry. The Pretzel Bakery isn’t going anywhere. However, due to the pandemic and because of a service industry shortage of workers, they will not be opening on Mondays or Tuesdays starting on Monday, September 13. I chatted with Sean and he told me that even though the Pretzel Bakery is doing well– so well, in fact, that they will be opening a second location in Cabin John, Maryland– finding and keeping staff has become an increasingly frustrating task.
As the pandemic wore on, and after closing in March of 2020, Haney brought half of his staff back in June of 2020. The idea was that the other half of the staff would be slowly incorporated, while keeping everyone as safe as possible. Haney is particularly mindful of staff health: he is a father of three, and one of his children has asthma, a well-known risk factor for COVID.
As summer progressed, some of the staff decided not to return– a common story for many in the restaurant industry. Despite having a great experience hiring neighborhood teens eager to have a summer job, the start of school naturally takes away that workforce making it harder to stay open on weekday mornings. Fewer staff members means that there is less rest time, less time to properly train new employees in a kind and thoughtful manner, and a lot more stress. “The bakery has always been a place of happiness for me, but it stopped feeling that way, “says Haney. The stress and burnout mean that it’s time to scale back. The bakery will still be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, however, so we can all get that salty, buttery, pillowy treat five days out of the week.
And hey, if you would love working for a nice local bakery that makes many people happy and you’re committed to being a team player, why not drop them a line here? Tell them we sent you!