New Niles restaurant to serve homemade pretzels, ice cream

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Francine Saunders and her son, Robert, hold up a sign outside their new seasonal restaurant Fran’s Pretzels Plus, which opens Friday. It will be open each day from May through October.

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT
Francine Saunders and her son, Robert, hold up a sign outside their new seasonal restaurant Fran’s Pretzels Plus, which opens Friday. It will be open each day from May through October.

For a long time, Dennis Fergison and his business partner, Francine Saunders, have dreamed of a place in Niles where they could get homemade pretzels, piping hot and fresh from the oven.

Tired of waiting, the two finally decided to take matters into their own hands and open their own pretzel place.

“We’ve had this idea for years and years because, well, I like pretzels,” Fergison said. “I finally had the opportunity to get the building and here we are.”

On Friday, Fran’s Pretzels Plus will officially open to the public.

It is housed in the former Swingbelly’s Soft Serve building at 1401 S. 11th St., in Niles, next to Wendy’s and across the street from Pete’s Southside Marathon.

“This is the first one. No one is making homemade pretzels around here,” said Fergison, who also owns Niles Tire Service.

Saunders said the seasonal restaurant would be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Hours are subject to change based on customer demand.

Fran’s Pretzels Plus will offer a variety of food and drinks with homemade pretzels being the main attraction.

The pretzels will come in three sizes: regular, jumbo and monster (24 ounces).

People can also order pretzel sticks and bites with a variety of dipping sauces to choose from.

Fergison said there are three types of pretzel dough: buttery soft (similar to sourdough), honey wheat and cinnamon sugar.

As for ice cream, Fergison said they would offer a rotating flavor selection of “designer” soft serve with a higher-than-average cream content.

“It is much denser and better than normal ice cream,” he said, adding that shakes, malts and floats would be on the menu.

People can also order sandwiches, hot dogs and finger foods, including baked onion rings or chicken strips.

Outdoor seating will be available for those who do not wish to use the drive-through service.

Saunders said they would employ three full-time workers with some part-time help.

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