POSTED Tue. Jan 19, 2016

Creative Culture

A New Orleans Twist on Pretzels

Gazing at his large, warehouse-esque business space, ASAP Pretzels co-owner Wayne Weidig tells a tale of bringing Bavaria to the Bywater.

“New Orleans isn’t known for pretzels, so initially I had my doubts,” says the New Orleans native. But for all those past concerns, today he is confident that, “we have the capacity to make more pretzels than anyone beneath the Mason Dixon line.”

Weidig co-owns ASAP (that would be A Soft Awesome Pretzel) with Tom Rakocy, a Pennsylvania native who came to the Gulf Coast after Katrina to work in the construction and demolition industries. The two men met in Pennsylvania, where Wayne spent 25 years selling ingredients to major snack manufacturers like Utz and Cargill.

“I always knew I wanted to come back to New Orleans after I retired,” says Weidig. “I met Tom at a Farmer’s Market in Harrisburg and he pitched his idea to me. His passion made the business happen.”

Rakocy spent a year looking for a space before settling on Piety Street in May 2014. ASAP Pretzels shares a building with Pizza Delicious (617 Piety St) – another Bywater startup with culinary offerings immigrants brought to the Northeast and later to the rest of the nation.

The Pennsylvania Dutch, also known as the Amish, brought soft Bavarian pretzels to Pennsylvania in the 19th century – continuing a baking tradition established in Germany centuries earlier. The pretzel belt developed from there – encompassing the Mid-Atlantic States where most pretzel aficionados reside. Pretzel mania never made it into the Deep South.

“Two companies, one in Texas and one in New Jersey, supply the majority of the pretzels in New Orleans. They’re shipped frozen and baked here,” says Weidig.

In a city known for its great German bakers, it’s noteworthy that soft pretzels remain uncommon outside of concession stands. Liedenheimer baked using traditional German recipes early on, but became famous for French bread. Today many of the city’s baguette bakers hail from Germany and Vietnam. Aside from an occasional pretzel during German American festivals and Oktoberfest, the delicacy never took hold. Weidig and Rakocy plan on changing that.

“Eighty percent of the people who come in want a traditional pretzel, served with mustard or beer cheese, and we offer both,” says Weidig. “We also want to do more, though, and create dishes using our pretzel dough recipe that move beyond a traditional pretzel.”

Being in the Bywater, where an eclectic set of residents actively seek out new and different foods, helps.

ASAP is open from 7am til 11pm, offering coffee and baked breakfast items in the morning like cinnamon pretzels as well as a variety of savory dishes throughout the day. Pretzel dogs, pretzel buns, pretzel po boys, pretzel bread bowls filled with red beans and rice. At Mirliton Festival, ASAP served an herbed flatbread topped with roasted vegetables, gulf shrimp, andouille, and mozzarella cheese.

“As a native, I want dishes that represent aspects of New Orleans cuisine. Tom appreciates that – but also stresses the beauty the original Bavarian pretzel,” says Weidig. “We spent our first year in this space playing baker – testing recipes and shapes, like rods and figure eights, and figuring out what we wanted to do. We didn’t perfect our recipe until we brought in Pablo. He had the expertise we needed.”

Master baker Pablo Paz, a Guatemalan immigrant with decades of experience in pastries and breads, rounds out the team behind ASAP Pretzels. He hand twists almost every pretzel before it rests and bakes, and also brings part of his Guatemalan culinary heritage to the business with his flatbreads – which use the same dough base as the pretzels but feature fresh herbs, spices, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.

And what about the pretzels? They’re large – 7 inches in diameter and height, with a caramel colored, salt crusted, exterior. The design allows for a variety of textures – there’s a delicious contrast between the slimmer, interior pieces and the larger, fluffier, outer rings.

Each pretzel comes with yellow and brown mustard – the yellow mustard’s sweetness tones down the salt, while the coarse brown variety adds a slight spiciness. I like to use both. Other options like beer cheese or a chocolate dipping sauce provide additional flavor profiles.

In a city brimming with spice and flavor, this inauspicious baked good provides a sometimes needed simple respite. The pretzel is also an ode to our German immigrants, and the baking tradition for which they’re famous.

“We’re offering a traditional pretzel as well as other mainstays that connect to the region. We think that’s the key,” says Weidig.

Photo courtesy of ASAP Pretzels via Facebook.

POSTED Jul 18, 2019

Creative Culture

August in New Orleans

August in New Orleans

New Orleans may be known as a party town, but locals work as hard here as they do in any city. Take a break from the routine with…....

Written by CREE MCCREE
POSTED Dec 14, 2018


Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Hey, the weather outside is kind of frightful! About as frightful as it gets down here anyways (also, note that next week temperatures will be back in the…....

Written by ADAM KARLIN
POSTED May 10, 2017

Creative Culture

Carnival Redux at the New Orleans Museum of Art

Carnival Redux at the New Orleans Museum of Art

On May 12 the New Orleans Museum of Art will fling open its doors for Masquerade: Late Night at NOMA, a costume party replete with float builders, mask-makers,…....

POSTED Dec 23, 2016


Some Holiday Music for the Weekend

Some Holiday Music for the Weekend

Happy holidays, y’all. We hope you find plenty to occupy you during this busy Christmas weekend, but if you find yourself having a small, quiet moment, or just…....

Written by ADAM KARLIN

    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



    was added to your favorites.



    Share On Twitter Share On Facebook