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Dayton’s Not Dead: Smales Pretzel Bakery

Smales Pretzel Bakery

Smales Pretzel Bakery | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian

Smales Pretzel Bakery is a local business serving freshly baked pretzels to the Dayton community. Visiting Smales invokes a sense of nostalgia through its rich history, classic pretzels and friendly atmosphere. 

A family tradition 

Founded in 1906 as Gem City Pretzel by German immigrant Rudie Schaaf, Smales is a family-owned business.  According to the Smales Pretzel Bakery’s website, the business was renamed to its current namesake in 1926.

Having also relocated to their current location at 210 Xenia Avenue in 1926, Smales continues to build on the foundation of previous owners. From brick and mortar locations to stalls at the local Dayton Arcade, Smales has evolved over time. Currently, a pretzel truck is in the works as well to bring fresh pretzels to local weddings, businesses and events.  

“There is a lot of tradition here. Many of the customers that come here have fond memories of this place. They came here as children and still enjoy coming in,” General Manager Mary Ditner said. 

Smales Pretzel Bakery
Smales Pretzel Bakery | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian

Employees weigh in 

Pretzel maker Joe Swann is approaching his one-year mark of employment at Smales. His friend knows the owner, Emma, and he applied after hearing about the rich tradition and history of this business. 

“My favorite part of working here is the atmosphere. It is relaxed. We come in and twist the pretzels, bake, do our job and connect with other coworkers,” Swann said. 

Cleveland native Micki Hayes is also a pretzel maker at Smales and enjoys getting to connect with other local businesses in the Dayton area.  

“I love learning how interconnected all of Dayton businesses are. I am not originally from Dayton, so it has been truly a special experience to be a part of,” Hayes said. 

Similar to Swann, Hayes also credits her connections with coworkers as one of the most valuable aspects of her job. 

“The people, the sense of community, it has truly been so amazing. We had a customer come in the other day and said that he was in the service in the ’70s and had been in Russia and that all they could do was drink and eat pretzels so his family would send him pretzels every two weeks. Stories like that are super neat to hear,” Hayes said.

Smales is open Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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