Kolache Shoppe owners Randy & Lucy Hines celebrate 50 years on April 1 with 50 cent kolaches at the Heights drive-through location. (Photo by Carla Gomez)
Kolache Shoppe treats range from the sweet to the savory. (Photo by Carla Gomez)
Erwin Ahrens transformed the Kolache Shoppe into a successful business. (Courtesy photo) (Photo by Carla Gomez)
You can almost smell the yeasty goodness in the savory sausage kolaches. (Photo by Carla Gomez)
Randy Hines shows off the Mayor's proclamation declaring April 1 as Kolache Shoppe Day in Houston. (Photo by Carla Gomez)
Sweet treats from the 50-year-old Kolache Shoppe. (Photo by Carla Gomez)
No April Fool’s joke, this. Since its founding in the late 1960s by two entrepreneurs with a hunger for authentic Czech pastries, the Kolache Shoppe has baked an estimated 14 million treats for Houstonians who appreciate kolaches that are freshly made the old-fashioned way — from scratch.
In celebration of this culinary milestone, Mayor Sylvester Turner has declared April 1 “Kolache Shoppe Day” in Houston, and current Kolache Shoppe owners Lucy and Randy Hines are offering on that day select flavors at 50 cents each from 7 am until they’re sold out, exclusively at its Houston Heights location drive-through at 1031 Heights Boulevard.
No hoarding allowed. The promotion is limited to two dozen specially priced kolaches per car and includes $1.65 kolaches such as small sausage, small sausage and cheese, peach, cream cheese, etc. The offer is good for drive-through only. Call-in orders are excluded from the special offer.
These tasty yeasty treats — some sweet, some savory — were introduced in Texas by Czech immigrants who settled in Central and South Texas in the 1800s.
In 1970, the original Kolache Shoppe opened at 3945 Richmond. But where the founders excelled in baking, they didn’t do as well in business acumen. Soon Erwin Ahrens, an investor in the business, stepped in to take over the operation. Realizing his shortfall in baking, he consulted with professional and home bakers (read that latter as Czech grandmothers) to perfect the recipes for kolaches and other pastries.
“Heritage is what makes kolaches special,” Ahrens said recently.”Kolaches are more than just pastries; they are a Czech tradition that traveled to Texas along with the immigrants who came here starting in the 1820s, which turned to widespread immigration by the 1850s. Apart from their baking traditions, Czech immigrants brought with them their hardworking spirit and their positive morals — these are necessary for a workable society.
“In my mind, all of these things make up kolache heritage. It’s so basic but so strong, I never want to see it die out.”
In 2015, longtime fans Lucy and Randy Hines (the latter, an apprentice of the Kolache Shoppe at one point) purchased the entity from Ahrens with plans for expanding the brand.