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Houston Bakery Creates National Craving for Czech-Inspired Pastries

By Allison Wilson

It's been recognized as one of the Top 5 Drive-thrus in America by the Food Network. Modern Baking magazine named it one of the top 50 food service bakeries in the United States. But the Kolache Factory's menu isn't the only reason it has garnered so much praise. It is also one of the fastest growing companies in Houston, and Franchise Times magazine listed it as one of the top 20 bakery-cafés to watch.

The Kolache Factory introduced its European-style pastry, a sweet yeast dough with a variety of different fillings, to the Houston area in 1982, when the first store opened. There are now 23 company-owned and 28 franchise stores around the country. Kolaches originated from Eastern Europe in the Czech Republic, and were traditionally thought of as wedding pastries with fillings such as poppy seeds or prunes.

"We have long since Americanized them to include all types of delicious fare like BBQ or Bacon Egg & Cheese," says Dawn Nielsen, Vice President of the Kolache Factory. "The most popular type here in Texas is by far the sausage and cheese. True Czechs call the enclosed meat filled ones klobasniky, but for ease we just call them all kolaches because they are all delicious and all made with our kolache dough. The dough for the kolaches is made fresh on-site at each Kolache Factory location and does not come from a pre-mixed bag. Many competing bakeries use doughnut dough but that is not what a kolache is all about."

Customers love kolaches because they offer a lot of variety and are easy to eat on the run. Nielsen says that while many compare the kolache to a pig in a blanket or a Hot Pocket type pastry, the Kolache Factory defies any comparison.

"What sets us apart is the quality of our dough," she says. "Ours is a true Czech recipe and much time and energy goes into preparing this semi-sweet dough. We only put the finest meats, cheeses and fruits into them."

The Kolache Factory keeps their offerings inventive by holding an annual Kolache Olympics, where stores compete against one another to come up with the next flavor of the month. The top sweet and savory item will find its way to the following year's rotation. Kolache Factory franchises also listen to their customers' suggestions, and great ideas are always passed onto the research department for further review.

Kolache Factory becomes very popular around the holidays, especially their dinner rolls. From full-service catering with holiday flavors like pumpkin/pecan pie and turkey and dressing, to party trays for the family on Christmas morning, Kolache Factory is always a big help in the kitchen when the family is in town.

"The only day we are closed is Christmas Day, so we encourage everyone to pre-order their holiday treats," Nielsen says. "Besides, who wants to cook on Christmas morning when they can eat a delicious Kolache Factory kolache? Other items we offer include our cinnamon rolls, cinnamon twists, muffins, croissants and sticky buns. If you have a sweet tooth, we have a fix for that!"

The Kolache Factory is open Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Sundays, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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