Kolache Republic Plans to Grow from Food Cart to Retail Store in 2012
Until recently, finding a kolache in Central Ohio was practically impossible. All of that changed when Kolache Republic came on the scene to serve these ethnic treats at local farmers markets. Now, armed with a food cart, they’ve taken their business to the streets with eventual plans to open a retail location in 2012.
We spoke recently with Doug Sauer, co-owner of Kolache Republic to find out more about this foreign imported food and why everyone is buzzing about it.
Q: First things first… what exactly is a kolache?
A: A kolache is an Eastern European pastry which differs by region. We specialize in the Czech kolache which is made from a slightly sweetened dough filled with fruit, nuts, sweet cheese or meat. Our kolaches are made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients when possible, with no preservatives.
Q: Where did the idea come from to start a business around this very specific type of food?
A: After moving from Texas, where there is a large Czech population and an abundance of Kolache shops, my business partner Rick searched high and low for this pastry in Columbus and came up empty handed. Having traveled extensively through Texas, Dusty, my other business partner, and I also realized what Columbus had been missing. One night, one of us mentioned how difficult it was to get a kolache, so we decided to give it a try and make our own. Rick called his sister-in-law who owned a kolache shop in Texas and she passed on her family recipe. After months of trial and error and adjusting the recipe to work in Ohio’s climate, we had our finished product and began selling at local farmers’ markets. We knew we had something good, but we didn’t expect the type of responses we received. We heard everything from people sharing fond childhood memories of their grandmother’s kolache to an 80 year old woman arguing that our kolache was not authentic because it was not the Polish version. Transplants from Texas were also excited because they could finally get a kolache in Columbus.
Q: Do the three of your have a background in food or food-related businesses?
A: I was born and raised here in Columbus, and my professional background is in Real Estate Market Research, but always had a love for cooking since I was a kid. I remember being a kid and watching my Dad break down a chicken into parts because it’s cheaper to buy the whole chicken instead of buying it already cut up. Dusty was also born and raised in Columbus and works in Corporate Retail. Dusty’s grandparents owned a restaurant in Northern Ohio and he grew to appreciate working for oneself and caught the restaurant bug. Rick is originally from Texas and moved to Columbus by way of San Francisco. His work background is in Financial Planning, and he had always wanted to start a business from the ground up and was excited to start a business with friends.
Q: So, what types of kolache does Kolache Republic sell?
A: We have over 25 different flavors of the sweet and savory varieties. Our most popular sweet flavors are Sweet Cheese, Strawberry, Apple, and Poppy Seed. We also make seasonal flavors such as Pumpkin Sweet Cheese, Key Lime and even a Buckeye kolache for Football season. Of the savory flavors, the sausage, jalapeno and cheese kolache has become our best-seller. Several of our customers have mentioned that they are perfect for tailgating because they are portable and you can hold a kolache in one hand and a beer in the other. They are also a lot less messy than a hot dog or brat because everything is contained within the dough.
Q: What sort of plans do you have for the long-term future?
A: We are currently looking for a retail location. Our goal is to have a store open in Spring 2012.
Q: Where can we currently find your products?
A: We take special orders from our website and our sweet kolache is currently available in the Celebrate Local store at Easton through the end of January. You can also find the location of our food cart by following us on Facebook or Twitter.
More information can be found online at www.KolacheRepublic.com.