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Reston bakery Nordic-Knot competes for $60k prize in national contest

Reston pretzel bakery Nordic-Knot (via Studio-M Photos & Jennifer Heffner Photography)

A Reston-based pretzel bakery is vying for up to $60,000 in prize money from a national small business competition sponsored by Barclays Bank.

The only finalist from Virginia, Nordic-Knot was chosen from a pool of nearly 5,000 entries based on criteria like creativity, innovation, and perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Small Business Big Wins” contest is intended to give businesses impacted by the pandemic a big boost.

“Nordic-Knot is both thrilled and humbled to have been chosen as one of ten finalists in the Barclay’s Small Biz Big Wins competition,” Nordic Knot co-owner Melissa Romano said. “The pandemic years have certainly been a ‘twisted’ time for many small businesses, including Nordic-Knot, but we are incredibly thankful for the support of our customers and community. Your votes will help us win the ‘dough’ so that we can keep twisting our pretzel dough to make the knots you crave.”

Contest voting will continue through Friday, April 22. Only one vote is allowed per email address.

Owners Melissa Romano and Eric Lundberg plan to use the money to boost their market reach and production capabilities.

Nordic-Knot offers a mix of pretzels, pretzel dogs, party boxes, and pretzel croissants. It’s based out of Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, but doesn’t have a specific storefront.

The pandemic hit the business right after it developed a strong footing as a manufacturer and distributor of handmade soft pretzels for wholesale resale.

But when the pandemic forced most of its resellers to shutter its doors, the business quickly pivoted to establish an online presence and provide direct retail sales to individual consumers.

The business was also able to provide flour and yeast in bulk to customers when those items were scarce in supermarkets.

Last year, even as more businesses opened up shop, the owners stayed in the retail sales realm. Lundberg built a vending cart that would arrive at Lake Anne on Saturday mornings and offer customers with a pick-up cabinet for pre-ordered parcels.

“Nordic-Knot was born from a love of pretzels, and as a way of twisting together family, friends, and community is our motto, and we stand by it every day as we hand mill our flour, proof our dough, then hand shape, roll, twist and bake our pretzels,” Romano wrote in the contest statement.

Only 10 finalists were selected in the national contest. In 2020, Barclays named Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs, a New-York-based restaurant, the winner of the grand prize of $50,000.

“There has been a tremendous response from the small business community to share their stories of resilience and recovery,” said Nancy Parnella, director of US Business Cards at Barclays. “We have been inspired by the many personal and deeply impactful stories submitted, and we hope these stories encourage other small business owners and aspiring business owners to keep working to make their dream a reality.”

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