Auntie Anne's will open its first Michigan-based Meijer franchise store in Allen Park this spring, as part of the Lancaster, Penn.-based pretzel company's plans for continued growth into non-mall locations.
"The brand is always looking for opportunities to grow in traditional and non-traditional locations," says Brian Boycan, Auntie Anne's vice president of non-traditional development. "We're excited about our new partnership with Meijer, as they are a great brand in Michigan and the Midwest."
Auntie Anne's first teamed up with the Grand Rapids-based grocery retailer in August to open a pretzel shop within a Fort Wayne, Ind. Meijer. Since then, a second Meijer franchise location has opened in Indiana, and the pretzel franchise hopes to roll out additional units this year, Boycan says.
"The snack category of restaurant is one that we have just begun with, but feel it will be just as successful as the other restaurants and coffee shops in our stores," says Christina Fecher, a Meijer spokeswoman. The retailer has more than 50 food-related tenants located within its stores, in addition to more than 20 Meijer-run Starbucks, she adds.
Like the Fort Wayne units, each new Meijer location will incorporate Auntie Anne's new design, which resembles a home kitchen with warmer tones and new equipment. They will offer the same menu items found in the traditional mall stores, including hand-rolled soft pretzels and pretzel dogs (hot dogs wrapped in a baked pretzel).