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Pretzel-maker set to buy Sentinel building in Carlisle

This article appeared on Cumberlink.com on December 17, 2017.

By Zack Hoopes

The Sentinel building in Carlisle is currently under contract to be purchased and turned into a pretzel factory.

Local food manufacturing partnership Amish Country Bakehouse will purchase the newspaper’s 25,000-square-foot headquarters at 457 E. North St. in Carlisle.

Under the agreement, The Sentinel will move its offices to a new location in the first part of 2018, according to the newspaper’s interim publisher, Kim Kamowski.

“We will be a food manufacturer from start to finish — we will bake, pack, do it all out of The Sentinel building,” said ACB co-owner Chris Sarago.

The baking company operates facilities in Camp Hill and Lancaster, with a total of 14 employees. Plans are to grow to 35 to 40 employees within three years of expanding into the Sentinel building, Sarago said.

ACB operates several brands, chiefly All Twisted Pretzel Products, and is also finalizing the acquisition of the Tonya’s Gluten-Free Kitchen brand.

Expanding business

The company’s products can be found in most major supermarkets, with Giant, Weis, Karns and Wegmans being major buyers, Sarago said. The company also distributes through restaurant suppliers such as Sysco, and also works with fundraising vendors such as the York-based Sammy Sandwich program.

The acquisition of the Sentinel building is being spurred in part by ACB’s plans to expand into school food services, with the company negotiating deals with New York City and Indianapolis public schools to provide baked goods.

Sarago estimated that the company sells around 5 million pretzel rolls of different varieties each year. The company is also able to produce up to 100,000 “pretzel nuggets” — bite-size snacks popular in convenience stores and school cafeterias — per day.

“The nugget line is fully automated, but all of our rolls and buns are hand-twisted,” Sarago said.

ACB has existed in some form since 2004, when the company started producing frozen pizzas, Sarago said. Its ownership includes members of the Sarago family along with Lancaster investor Doug Harris.

Newspaper to move

The Sentinel is “still in the process of working through final negotiations with two buildings within the borough” for a new office space, Kamowski said.

The newspaper’s parent company, Lee Enterprises, put the newspaper headquarters up for sale in the summer of 2016, noting that the building is too large for The Sentinel’s operations.

In April 2016, the company outsourced its printing and eliminated its own printing press, which occupied most of the building’s square footage. The Sentinel is now printed at the Frederick News-Post facility in Maryland.

“We are excited to see how All Twisted Pretzel transforms The Sentinel building,” Kamowski said.

Retrofitting the facility into an industrial bakery will be a significant undertaking. Some equipment can be transferred from the Camp Hill and Lancaster sites, Sarago said, but new capital will also be involved.

ACB is working with private banks for financial backing, as well as with the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit agency sponsored by the county government.

CAEDC’s strategic plan has, for several years, identified food processing as a potential growth industry and target area for Cumberland County.

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