Cars stretched along Route 206 Monday and Tuesday, as flooded roads and other hurricane-related damages closed most back roads to normal traffic.
For Philly Pretzel Factory owner Frank Calu, the solution to a two-hour wait time misery was pretzels.
“We just saw everybody sitting there, looking miserable,” Calu said. “We said, why not make everybody’s day a little better with a little food in their belly.”
As a result, Calu spent Monday handing out 100 individually-wrapped pretzels from his shop at no charge to motorists. He continued his efforts Tuesday, with the assistance of company mascot Phill-E, and handed out 160 pretzels that day.
“Most people didn’t want to roll down their windows at first, because they thought they had to pay for them,” Calu said. “But people were very receptive and thankful, especially those with kids.”
It’s only Calu’s first week as owner of the Hillsborough shop, having just purchased the franchise from the previous owner—and Monday was his first day at work.
“You don’t normally start your first day of work at a new franchise with a hurricane disaster,” he said. “I knew I was going to be alright, so let me share some of my good fortune with everyone else.”
Giving out the pretzels also lets Calu meet the community from Hillsborough and surrounding areas, he said.
“It’s also a good way to introduce us to the community as well,” he said. “I was able to introduce myself and tell them there was a new owner. We’re right at the end of the commute (from Princeton to Somerville) so people are there for quite a long period of time.”
The idea isn’t a short-lived either, according to Calu. As long as the road remains clogged with flood-related traffic, he intends to hand out free samples of his wares.
“I have no problem going out and handing them out while traffic is still there,” he said.