Cinnabon opens in mall

It pays to read the newspaper.

In 2012, Donna Wirfel came across a questionnaire in the Altoona Mirror asking residents what franchise they would most like to see in the area. The answer was Cinnabon.

Knowing her love for the product, Wirfel approached her sister, Diane Helsel, with the idea of opening a Cinnabon franchise.

On Oct. 22, Helsel opened Cinnabon on the first floor of the Logan Valley Mall.

“I would travel for work. You would find a Cinnabon in most every airport. I would stop and get a Cinnabon. I loved the product, and I knew there wasn’t a franchise in this area,” said Helsel, 43, of Cresson.

Helsel said she has been baking since age 6.

“I baked with my grandma and my mom. I came from a family of bakers. I always wanted to own my own business. It has been a lifelong dream,” Helsel said. “I wanted to go into business with something I love. Baking is in my blood.”

Founded in Seattle in 1985 and now based in Atlanta, Cinnabon Inc. serves oven-hot cinnamon rolls, as well as a variety of other baked goods and specialty beverages. Cinnabon currently operates more than 1,000 franchised locations worldwide, primarily in high traffic venues such as shopping malls, airports, train stations, travel plazas, entertainment centers and military establishments.

“Cinnabon fans have been asking for us to come to Altoona, and we’re excited our new franchisee will be able to provide them with those oh-so-worth-it moments that keep our guests in awe,” Cinnabon President Kat Cole said in a statement.

Cinnabon is known for its Cinnabon Classic Roll, which is baked with Makara cinnamon and brown sugar and topped with cream cheese frosting. Cinnabon also offers a full line of made-to-order blended beverages.

Business is going well, Helsel said.

“It has been very good, better than I anticipated. People are really receptive. They are excited we are here. I

didn’t know they would be as excited about Cinnabon as they are,” Helsel said.

Cinnabon is a good addition to the mall, said Joy Weidel, mall spokeswoman.

“It is pretty exciting any time you can bring in something different. They are bringing in a lot of energy, and customers are responding to it and are excited about it, and it smells wonderful,” Weidel said. “It is a good addition to the mall.”

Wirfel has joined her sister’s business and is serving as the bakery’s general manager.