Philly Pretzel Factory, a franchise specializing in hand-twisted soft pretzels, has opened its first location in Baltimore in Harborplace.
Franchise owner Michael Ward plans to open a second location May 1 in Bel Air.
The bakery in Harborplace downtown opened Friday in the Light Street Pavilion. It will employ eight people and includes an outdoor kiosk.
Ward, who worked for General Electric for more than two decades before purchasing the franchise, also is looking for sites for stores in White Marsh and Ocean City.
The chain was founded in 1998 in Philadelphia by college friends Dan DiZio and Len Lehman and bills itself as the nation's largest Philly style pretzel bakery, with 150 locations.
"The concept was to bake Philly Style soft pretzels all day so that everyone could enjoy a soft pretzel that is served "Hot Outta the Oven" as they walked through the door," the company says on its website.
Besides pretzels, the stores specializes in pretzel twists, mini pretzels, rivets, pretzel dogs, cheesesteak pretzels and a variety of mustard.
The chain has Maryland bakeries in Urbana, Elkton and Cambridge.