After more than three decades of serving up homemade kolaches, Carol White felt the time was right to expand her family business, Kolache Kitchen. When the space next to the Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center at 115 W. French Ave. became available, it was an opportunity White couldn’t pass up.
“It matches with the Czech Heritage Museum, and I really enjoy this side of town,” White said.
Kolache Kitchen fills the space that was most recently occupied by Teddy Bear Bakery, but is not affiliated with the former tenant.
White and her family have been serving up homemade kolaches since 1984 at their 23108 SE HK Dodgen Loop location. White said the new store has seen a steady stream of business since opening Aug. 1.
“I had no idea we’d be this busy. Saturday we sold out early and had to go steal from the other store. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much because it’s gone so well,” White said.
The business has been a family affair from the beginning. White grew up in Rogers eating her family’s kolaches long before the idea of opening a bakery came to be.
“My grandmother made them every Sunday morning, and then my mother started making them and opened the first store in 1984,” White said.
Poppy seed and apricot are among the most popular offerings, but White said most people’s favorite is the cream cheese kolache.
“The cream cheese are by far the most popular. We make our cream cheese from scratch,” she said. “My mom took my grandmother’s recipe and converted it into a commercial recipe so that we could sell it at a reasonable price.”
White took over the business in 2001, but it still remains a family effort. Her children come in after hours to bake rolls in preparation for the next day. Her husband took a week of vacation from his job to paint and remodel the new location.
Susan Chandler, administrator of the Czech Heritage Museum, said the shop’s family atmosphere and Czech ties made it a perfect fit to occupy the space next to the museum.
“The history of Czech heritage behind the Kolache Kitchen makes it a perfect fit here at the Czech Heritage Museum,” Chandler said. “Carol and her children grew up working the first location. Now there are four generations going in and out of the shop, and Carol talks about her staff as if they were family, too. There’s a lot of heart over there and I believe you can taste it in her food.”
As the selection of kolaches on display dwindled Tuesday morning, White teared up when thinking about the journey the family has been on.
“I am so blessed. There have been a lot of days where I put in a lot of hours,” she said. “I thought this would take a while to take off. I didn’t think it would happen in two weeks.”
Kolache Kitchen is open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.