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Law & Pretzels

A title like that might not make for a very exciting TV show, but it's this ex-lawyer's life story.

"I guess I was dissatisfied with the profession and my practice, and was looking for something else to do, something more rewarding than being an attorney." Such was the mindset of Harry Rieck more than six years ago, when he decided to leave the legal world and start a business.

Through his brother-in-law, Rieck secured a retail space at Sawgrass Mills mall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "The location suited itself for a snack-food-type franchise," he explains. With the right space and purpose in mind, Rieck researched various snack-food niches before settling on pretzels and then on Auntie Anne's.

With help from wife Sharon, 31, Rieck, 44, opened his franchise in 1995, a store that co-brands Auntie Anne's pretzels with Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard. Five years later, the Riecks opened a second location, this one serving only pretzels, at the other end of the Sawgrass center.

But rolling dough isn't Rieck's only passion. Since 1997, he has been on Auntie Anne's regional advisory council, serving as president for the Southeast region for three years. In that position, Rieck helped bring together Auntie Anne's and the Children's Miracle Network, a charity the franchise supports through various fund-raisers. "We wanted something everyone could feel good about doing, and CMN seemed to be [perfect], because no one [objects] to helping out sick kids," Rieck explains.

Although running two stores, serving on the advisory council and raising a growing family make for long hours, Rieck's new life continues to bring him a level of satisfaction he never achieved in the legal profession. "I'm much happier doing this," he says. "This is hard, but it's fun."

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This article was originally published in the December 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Law & Pretzels.

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