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2. Savory Kolaches_credit Becca Wright.jpg Becca Wright
A selection of savory kolaches.

Houston institution Kolache Shoppe expands into North Texas

The bakery’s owners plan slow and steady growth, with a mix of franchises and corporate-owned stores

The Kolache Shoppe — a Texan-Czech bakery founded in 1970 known for its sweet and savory kolaches and coffee — is a Houston institution that was purchased by Lucy and Randy Hines in 2014. Over the past decade, the couple has refreshed the brand, and in 2020 launched a franchise program to expand its presence. Since then, the Hines family has expanded the bakery to four — soon to be five — locations and is now moving into the North Texas market.

Kolache Shoppe franchise locations now operate in Houston’s Heights neighborhood, in Pearland, Tex., and in Celina, a town situated north of Dallas that welcomed its first Kolache Shoppe in February.

The Celina store is owned by Courtney and Jake Poulsen, along with Courtney’s parents, Cindy and Gary Mechler. The Poulsens have known the Hineses and enjoyed their kolaches for many years. They said that bringing this legacy brand to Celina and to the Dallas-Fort Worth area is a dream, and they’re excited to share delicious and convenient food options with their community.

The 1,558-square-foot space features the brand’s signature design elements, including a blue-and-white motif, a custom wooden pastry case, an espresso bar, and a mural of iconic Celina landmarks. The bakery offers a few seats inside, a small patio, and a drive-thru window for quick grab-and-go orders as well as the pre-order pickup of pastries and coffee drinks.

The menu is anchored by Kolache Shoppe’s original, decades-old recipe for enriched yeast dough. It’s fluffy and lightly sweet, providing the base for two dozen kolaches, including fruit-filled options like blueberry and cherry, savory options like sausage and cheese, and breakfast-style kolaches featuring fillings like bacon, egg, and cheese.

The Celina opening was followed by the recent announcement that Kolache Shoppe has secured a space for a second corporate location at the edge of Houston’s Memorial and Spring Branch area. The Hineses have partnered with Kolache Shoppe’s director of operations Michael Horne, and after outfitting the 1,400-square-foot space to include a kitchen, bakery case, and coffee bar, the trio hopes to open the doors in January 2025.

The design will follow the template set by recent builds in the Heights, Pearland, and Celina. There will be limited indoor and outdoor seating, with the primary focus on to-go orders. But the spacious footprint and full coffee bar will serve as the new corporate base for franchise training.

Once the new store opens, Kolache Shoppe will have five total units: three franchised and two corporate. Hines said that assuming that mix of store ownership works, they will continue to pursue new locations in a 3:2 franchised to corporate ratio, while growing in a thoughtful and controlled manner.

“When Lucy and I first started exploring franchise expansion, we thought that we might have 20-plus locations one day,” Randy Hines said. “But after continuing to ponder over the past two years, we are now planning to slow the growth considerably to ensure that we maintain not only the quality of our brand but also our ability to touch everything.”

Franchisees benefit from the brand equity, recipes, and an operations blueprint, but they also get creative license to personalize their stores.

“We provide the basic parameters, from design to menu and everything in between, but then we like to brainstorm with the franchisees about how to really make their particular store their own,” Hines said, noting the Celina store’s mural as an example.

As franchisees open new locations, they’re also encouraged to source local ingredients and collaborate with local restaurants and chefs. The Poulsens are working with popular local barbecue joint Tender Smokehouse to offer a brisket, egg, and cheddar kolache, and they also partnered with local café Lucy’s on the Square to create a coconut cream kolache as a special for March.

Local touches like this will help Kolache Shoppe remain community-focused, even as they grow.

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