Kyle Clayton
Haines snackers wait in line Wednesday afternoon for Chris Peterson’s homemade pretzles.

On Friday, food-truck owner Chris Peterson worked through a line of customers that spilled out into the street in a lunch-time rush. He was a one-man show, swiftly moving from oven to register and back again in between personalized conversations, inquiries about cinnamon sugar over cheese, and calls out the far window to the picnic tables beside his truck-asking customers, “How is everything?”

One woman tells Peterson she’s on her lunch break from the ferry. “Thank you for going on strike,” Peterson jests. “Without you, I wouldn’t be here.”

When the ferry workers union that staffs the Alaska Marine Highway System went on strike during the highly-trafficked Southeast Alaska State Fair late last month, Peterson capitalized on a bad situation.

“I think they went on strike a half an hour after we got off the boat on Wednesday,” he said. He’d taken the ferry from Juneau with his wife, daughter and son-in-law with their trailer in tow. “We wrote a sign on the window (at the fair) ‘looking for some place to set up shop’.”

By Monday afternoon following the fair, Peterson’s family had gone home, and he was hooked up to water and power in the grassy field next to Miles Furniture on Main Street.

“It’s one less patch of grass I have to mow,” store owner Candi Bradford said. Even better is the increased foot traffic it’s brought them, a trickle-down effect of a pretzel fever that’s infected Haines.

In nearly two weeks, Peterson said he sells out of pretzels most days. Business has been so good, he’s decided to stay.

“For the foreseeable future we will be operating in Haines,” the company wrote on their Facebook page Aug. 7.

In 55 comment responses, Juneau customers lamented over their loss, while congratulating Haines on a new community asset. “Exciting for Haines, but sad for Juneau!” one comment read.

So long as business keeps up through November, when it normally close for the season, Peterson plans to stay.

On Monday morning, five would-be customers mosey past the food truck, each stopping to peek their head into Peterson’s darkened window.

“We’re closed today, my arms are tired and need a break until Wednesday,” he joked to one person.

Peterson Pretzels serves pretzel dogs and homemade soft pretzels jazzed up with everything; seeds, parmesan cheese, cinnamon sugar, and more. Peterson said what’s special about his pretzel is they are made fresh daily. He also serves soft drinks, including Red Bull spritzer, or the popular energy drink mixed with flavored syrup.

Alisha Young, a self-described “huge pretzel fan,” said she ate at Peterson’s Pretzels more than five times during her trip back to Haines this summer. “I live in Seattle, and this is by far the best pretzel compared to the options down there,” she said. “The variety of options, plus (Chris) is just a really good guy. We’re on a first-name basis at this point.”

Truck hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each Saturday, Peterson said he will donate a portion of proceeds to the local Salvation Army. Last week, he donated $300.