You probably already know what a kolache is if you’re a Texan given the snack’s popularity in the region. For those of you who have never traveled to the Lone Star state, first things first: this portable pastry is pronounced “ko-la-cheese”. Now, this hand-held Czech dish can come round, long, or even square, and tends to get stuffed with savory ingredients including eggs, cheese, sausage, and jalapeño. Sweet kolaches also exist and come in a variety of flavors like apricot, blueberry, sweet cheese, and poppy seed.
Sound good? They are, and now you can try them at Autumn Stanford’s new shop, Brooklyn Kolache in Clinton Hill. “The idea to open a kolache shop came from my in-laws, who recently moved back to New Jersey after spending several years in Houston,” says Stanford. “They really missed kolaches and we all thought it was crazy that that there were no kolaches in New York City.”
The lack of this popular food item surprised Stanford for a couple reasons: First, they are a quick and portable breakfast staple in Texas, especially Austin, and second, with all the Texas transplants, food trucks, and pop-ups, no one had tackled this simple and tasty dish. That’s mostly true. The last public attempt at peddling kolaches took place in Midtown at Kolache Mama, which opened in the fall of 2009 and closed within four months after failed dreams of franchising the operation. As far as I can tell, this popular pastry hasn’t reared its head in the city again until now.
Stanford, who was born and raised in Austin, worked at Seamless as an Operations Manager for eight years and, as she got restless, started thinking about what career path to choose next. The idea to try her hand at a kolache shop took form, and this past February, she opened the store. “Most of our regulars never heard of a kolache,” she says. “Now, they are hooked.” As for the Texans, Stanford says they have them, too, and on the weekend you can hear people excitedly chatting in line about their favorite kolache shops in Texas—for example Kolache Creations in Austin, The Czech Stop in West, Shipley’s Do-Nuts in Houston, and the Kolache Factory in Katy.
Whether kolaches will continue to bring the curious masses or just feed homesick Texans (and maybe the Homesick Texan, Lisa Fain) is yet to be seen. All I know for sure is that, on a recent Saturday, I dragged my hung-over self to the quaint shop, stuffed the sweet bread with cheese, sausage, and jalapeño combo into my mouth, topped it with a breakfast taco (another popular Texas bite), and downed a cup of black Kitten coffee. I left the joint feeling satisfied, and 98 percent more human and happy that the state that wishes to be its own country, brought me this treat.