Photo courtesy of Heather Horak
Kolaches' kolaches, from left: mushroom, egg, Gruyere and bacon; bacon, egg and cheddar; cream cheese with pomegranate and chocolate
Heather Horak is not a baker by trade.
In actuality, she’s a physical therapist who's been helping people for decades; in addition to her clinical work, she volunteers globally as a physical therapist in leprosy colonies in India, and as a entrepreneurial development facilitator in Haiti. But upon her move to Richmond, fate decided to intervene and add yet another dimension to her work life: When she couldn’t find a beloved stuffed pastry from her Texas childhood, she knew she had to remedy that issue. Richmond, meet the kolache.
Kolaches, pronounced kuh-LAH-cheez, are little meals-in-bread pockets, and they hail from the Czech Republic by way of Texas. Let’s go ahead and coin the term Czexan right now — you’re welcome, proper-noun Scrabble cheaters. Horak's new small business, Kolache, offers breakfast kolaches stuffed with eggs, sausage, gravy, and other morning favorites, as well as sweet-filled kolache varieties containing jam, pulped fruit, cream cheese, poppy seeds or a combo. Horak’s great-grandmother’s recipe is what you’ll be tasting when you sample the Kolache brand.
Bon Secours and the Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corporation recently announced Kolache is the recipient of a much-coveted SEED (Supporting East End Entrepreneur Development) grant. The SEED grant program was created to “revitalize the 25th Street corridor in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond,” and it provides up to $15,000 to folks looking to start or expand a business there. Horak pitched Kolache on the basis that the area needs a low-price-point food item that's both portable and nutritious, and one that incorporates locally grown ingredients — she’s currently sourcing local flours, eggs, sausage, fruit and any other workable ingredients she can find. “My grandfather was a farmer, and I wanted to honor him by supporting local producers,” says Horak.
Kolache is also seeking commercial kitchen space in Church Hill, and once that’s nailed down, all systems are go. Horak plans to start out vending at farmers markets like South of the James in the upcoming spring cycle, and if things go well, to run a Kickstarter campaign for a brick and mortar takeout space. She also wants to provide kolaches for local restaurants and coffee shops. If you want to get an early bird kolache preview, she's taking special orders.
“I’ve lived here in Richmond for just two years," Horak says. "I only intended to stay for six months, but I fell in love with it, so I’m staying. And I’m going to bring kolaches here! Now that I’ve gotten the SEED grant, it’s all kind of taking off!” Big bonus points go to our little mid-Atlantic city for enticing her, because she moved from… wait for it… Hawaii.
Kolache is slated to secure commercial cooking space within the next two to three months, so if you want to follow the progress or you’re interested in getting in touch, check out @kolacherva on Instagram or email email@example.com.