Up for Auction: Farm of Famous Pretzel-Franchise Founders

Farm of Aunt Annie's Pretzel owners
Courtesy of Madison Hawk via Zillow

By Laura Vecsey

It's the farm and conference center that pretzels built, but for the owners of this multi-faceted, multi-million dollar property in the heart of Lancaster, Pa., a new twist in their journey means it's time to sell it all. Quickly. Jonas and Anne Beiler, founders of Auntie Anne's soft pretzel company, are offering a collection of private homes, commercial/industrial space and land via auction, hoping to quickly dispense of a nice chunk of Amish-country property about an hour west of Philadelphia.

The couple, who founded Auntie Anne's in 1988 and later sold the company to dedicate themselves to their family counseling service, are moving to Texas, according to James R. Cote, managing director at Madison Hawk, which is handling the auctions. The properties had previously been listed for sale separately, but the Beilers are now eager to close the chapter on it all. The entire property, known as Houston Run and located at 863 Brackbill Rd, Gap, Pa. 17527, will be on the auction block.

That includes a family center on 94 acres that holds meeting rooms, medical offices and a cafe. The property also includes undeveloped land situated near a new Urban Outfitters distribution center, which could bring new interest to the 106,000 square feet of commercial space included in the Beilers' auction items. The opening bid is $1.9 million.

Cote said the commercial building housing the family center is being auctioned by sealed bids due by Dec. 5. In addition, the Beilers are seeking bids on their custom-built residence.

The 5,400-square-foot home has six bedrooms, five bathrooms and sits on 2.78 acres. A second 10.47-acre development parcel adjacent to the home will also be auctioned separately. The parcel could be developed or used as a privacy buffer for the main residence.

On Dec. 11, an open-cry auction will be held for a second private home along with a 53,000-square-foot professional building. This auction will also include the 6,000-square-foot Ellmaker House, which dates to 1820 and has been remodeled into offices and more conference space.

With 1,400 franchise locations sending the sweet smell of fresh-baked pretzels into the air in 47 states and 25 countries, Auntie Anne's twists of warm goodness have tickled the fancy, and noses, of millions of people. But the wild success that the Beilers derived from their pretzel company was used to fund their main passion, which was family counseling. According to The New York Times, the Beilers sold their pretzel company in 2005 for an undisclosed sum. The Times also reported that after relocating to Texas, "Jonas Beiler, 66, plans to continue his philanthropic activities, and Anne Beiler, 64, will pursue her career as a professional speaker (which she is in demand for) because of the success of the pretzel company, which had its origins at a market stall in Downingtown, Pa., in 1988.

It is an inspirational story, especially considering that the both Anne and Jonas Beiler only had an eighth-grade education. The couple credit their success to their work ethic and Christian faith after being raised on Amish farms in Lancaster County.

UP FOR AUCTION IN AMISH COUNTRY:

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