Though the exterior of The Sentinel’s former office building at 457 E. North St. in Carlisle may not look much different than it did a year ago, the interior has been transformed.
Pretzel dough is now being mixed and folded into pretzels where the Cumberland County newspaper was once written and printed.
Lee Enterprises, the parent company of The Sentinel, put the newspaper headquarters up for sale in the summer of 2016 after determining the building to be too large for current operations following the out-sourcing of its printing to the Frederick News-Post.
Amish Country Bakehouse purchased the building in December 2017 and began transitioning the building last August.
The location is now up and running. Pretzel production started in December 2018, and in February they really started cranking it up.
“The products that we make the most of are pretzel rolls and sliders. That’s been the core of our business,” said ACB co-owner Doug Harris. They also make pretzel nuggets, and soon will be launching a line of Auntie Ann’s pretzels in K-12 schools called Pretzel Pals. They will be made in the Carlisle location.
The goal was for ACB to open its Carlisle location on Oct. 1, said Chris Sarago, co-owner and chief operating officer. But ACB faced some challenges during construction.
“The fact that this facility was not really designed to be food grade manufacturing posed a couple problems for us.” The lack of in-floor draining proved to be the biggest issue. Construction crews had to cut through all the concrete in the building and install trench drains in the floor.
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“That was a big task. That took us a lot of work,” Harris said. In some spots, the cement slab was 10 inches thick. They had to bring backhoes into the facility to get the job done.
Getting the floor of the kitchen area food-grade ready also proved challenging. They had to sand it down, clean it and, most significantly, seal it. In December 2018 a food auditor gave a stamp of approval to ACB’s food-making-process. They could start making pretzels.
“That was a huge day for us,” Harris said.
ACB is not finished with construction. It has two production lines, and aims to have five in operation. Additionally, the interior office space is not finished.
ACB plans to keep the metal Sentinel sign on top of the entryway, as well as the bronze Sentinel plaque in the vestibule.
“We don’t see a rush to take it down,” Harris said. “It sort of looks cool, and everybody knows it as the Sentinel building”
Though the East North Street address is no longer a newspaper, ACB plans to honor the history of the building. There are also plans to convert the entry way into a newspaper-themed eatery and retail space.
“The Sentinel has been here forever,” Sarago said of the newspaper in August. “It’s a part of the town. We want to keep that tradition.”