It wasn’t necessarily her fiancé’s cup of tea, but Emma Smales loved life in LA.
Turns out she loves her family’s business, Smales Pretzel Bakery, even more.
Emma is now the fifth generation in her family to own the bakery located at 210 Xenia Ave. since 1926.
Her Facebook announcement of her ownership recieved hundreds of Facebook likes.
The 28-year-old is not the first Emma Smales to run the company known for its hand-twisted pretzels.
The business was founded by her German-born great-great grandfather Rudie Schaaf in 1895 and refined by his daughter for whom she is named.
Emma’s great-grandmother Emma was also about 28 when she took over the business from her dad.
“That was kind of a big feat for a woman in the 1920s,” Emma said of her forbearer. “She changed the name and made it what it was.”
Emma plans to make a few improvements, but she will keep much about Smales the same. She replaced lament ties in the front room with a wooden floor and intents to update some of the equipment.
"The machinary is all about 60 years old. It was only supposed to last about 30 years," she explained. "The rolling machine we are going to keep because it puts out good pretzels."
Emma holds a master’s degree in Public Health from California State University Northridge and has a background in IT.
She was working in Los Angeles as sex education teacher and part-time barista when she and her fiancé Joe Middlesworth decided to move back to Dayton three months ago to take over the business from her father Larry Smales.
Middlesworth, a snow lover from Chicago, had a TV production job.
She could not imagine the bakery being sold out of the family or closed, but knew her dad could'nt do it much longer by himself.
Emma says her dad has had health issues in recent years. Working in a bakery didn’t help matters.
“This is not a desk job. This is hard work," she said.
She said her dad worked six days a week and went in on Sundays to warm up the oven.
"He’s still going to be here a few days a week,” she said. He’ll be able to play golf. He will be able to enjoy himself.”
Emma left the Dayton area for California with her mother and sister when her parents divorced. She was 10 at the time. She cherished the time she spent at the bakery during summer breaks and other visits.
“It was always assumed that I was going to be the one to take it over because I am the oldest," said Emma, now a downtown Dayton resident.
People in LA didn’t really get the Midwest pretzel thing even though they loved the pretzels Emma would make for parties.
“I had to explain the culture of it,” Emma said.
Los Angeles residents didn't get it, but Daytonians have long loved Smales Pretzels.
The business had a pretzel stand in the old downtown Arcade for many years, according to an article by “Dayton Daily News” reporter Steve Bennish.
He wrote: Armloads of pretzels were ferried to neighborhood groceries and found their way into the hands of generations of school kids. Larry Smales, Schaaf’s great-grandson, recalls that as a boy he sold pretzels to legions of NCR employees on their lunch breaks.
Emma said she'd like to one day pursue a career in public heath, but is glad to keep her family tradition going and hopes to pass it down to her future children. Smales is part of her life's story.
"It is what I tell people. My family owns a 100-year-old pretzel bakery,” she said. “I don’t think of this is as job. I grew up here. I remember watching my grandfather bake pretzels."