By Elinor Bacon

The storefront down at The Wharf’s Fish Market; Courtesy of Author 

Twisted At The Wharf, a charitable, for-profit business is committed to empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) by providing them with tools for long-term career successes. The pretzel and sandwich shop joined The Wharf’s existing vibrant and diverse retail landscape last year during the pandemic.

Twisted serves 10 oz., soft, hot pretzels in addition to sandwiches and subs, hot dogs, half smokes, chili, and a variety of slushies and ice-cold drinks. 

Twisted was opened in May of 2020 by Co-founder Amy Fredenburg, who retired from the head of talent and acquisition at the DC office of a large NY law firm, and her husband and co-founder, Mark Dorigan, who currently serves as CEO of Hoffman & Associates, co-developer of The Wharf. Their mission was to create an opportunity for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to build skills and gain the kind of experience that sets them up for a career in the food service or hospitality industries. While the pandemic forced a setback in their time-line with respect to the formal internship program, Twisted currently employs two sales associates from the I/DD community, and the team is looking forward to expanding hiring in the coming months.  

“The lack of post-high school employment opportunities available to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities is an ongoing challenge and we wanted to make a difference,” said  Fredenburg. “The goal is to serve great quality, affordable food while fueling our personal passion. Our dual mission is to teach the job skills needed to gain a path to personal independence and, through sharing our profits, continue to support many of the incredible non-profit organizations in the area [that] are also making a difference in our community.”

“Even though we opened in the midst of the pandemic, the shop has received great support from the entire Wharf community and adjoining neighborhoods. The level of interest in the mission, coupled with solid sales, so far has been terrific and [now] to the point [where] we have expanded our menu this summer to serve a wider variety of great grab and go food,” said Dorigan. “It has been extremely rewarding to work with our sales associates at Twisted and to have the support of The Wharf’s ownership and operations team and it’s strong commitment to inclusivity, as well as other groups whose mission aligns with ours.”

The Wharf Community Association, Hoffman & Associates, The Arc of DC, a community-based non-profit working for people with I/DD, and various other non-profit organizations that provide mentoring and job-readiness education, have also joined Amy and Mark in working to make Twisted a reality, as well as partnering on job placements and training initiatives.

“We are proud to provide the design and full buildout of Twisted and play a role in bringing this important community-focused business to life,” said John Bradley, senior vice president of construction and field operations at Hoffman & Associates. “Twisted’s location within the historic Fish Market is a testament to The Wharf’s long-standing reputation as a destination for all.”

“We are grateful to be working closely with Twisted and appreciate their support towards our organization,” said Damian Miller, executive director of The Arc of DC. “We are looking forward to the evolution of their internship program as it aligns with our own efforts in actively promoting full inclusion and participation in the workplace for the I/DD community.”

Twisted’s internship program will feature five to six-month assignments that will provide participants with the base knowledge and experience to strengthen their resumes. Internships include formal performance reviews to identify strengths and opportunities, in addition to providing interns with resume writing and interviewing skills. 

Twisted will donate a percentage of profits to a local network of value-aligned charitable organizations, including:

  • The Arc of DC, a community-based non-profit working for people with I/DD throughout their lifetimes and across all diagnoses;
  • Main Street Connect, an inclusive, community-centered residential development – the first of its kind in the Washington Metropolitan Area – where 25% of the apartments are designed and designated for adults with disabilities;
  • BroadFutures, a non-profit organization committed to advancing the inherent potential of young adults with learning disabilities;
  • Madison House, a spiritual health & wellness center that stands to heal people from things that bind them mentally and emotionally.

The 550-square-foot pretzel and sandwich shop is located at 1162 Maine Ave. SW, within The Municipal Fish Market – just look for the GIANT PRETZEL! Twisted is currently open Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. 

For the full menu, internship applications, updates on changes to operating times and more, visit twistedpretzels.com or follow Twisted on Instagram @twisted_at_the_wharf. If you are interested in learning more about our full-time job opportunities outside of our internship program, please contact Amy directly at info@twistedpretzels.com

Twisted provides job training and food service experience to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Washington, DC. 

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