You won't find kolaches with a more personal touch than at Zamykal Gourmet Kolaches, a new shop to Dallas whose pastries come with a bittersweet family story.
Zamykal, which will open in late spring at 5181 Keller Springs Rd. between Liberty Burger and Dough Bros Pizza, is a second-generation version of a shop that was previously in Calvert, a small town outside Bryan-College Station. Zamykal was owned by Jody Powers, aka "the crazy kolache lady," a native of Fort Worth who earned fame — a YouTube video — for her zany routine of dancing on the sidewalk to lure customers in.
Powers became ill with multiple myeloma in 2014 and died in 2015. The Dallas Zamykal is being opened by her daughter, Tara McGraw, with Jody's twin sister, Jude Routh. Their recipes date back multiple generations, McGraw says.
"The recipes came from my great-grandmother, and we always had them at family reunions," McGraw says. "My mom got the recipe from her Aunt Agnes, and carried on the tradition by opening a shop in Calvert. She had the traditional flavors like prune and poppyseed and apple, but she was ahead of her time and came up with other flavors like chocolate peanut-butter and pecan pie."
Calvert has less than 2,000 residents, and Powers' routine quickly became the talk of the small town.
"She'd go outside and dance around and wave her towel," McGraw says. "She was a character who sang and danced and entertained people. She and Jude won three times on the talent competition show The Ted Mack Hour. All the college kids from A&M would come up to see the dancing kolache lady."
After her mother passed away, McGraw took possession of an entire bakery's worth of equipment. She thought about selling it, but decided instead to invite her aunt Jude to start a business together. They began selling kolaches online and at festivals, before deciding to open a retail outlet. Their store will be streamlined and modern, but will incorporate some elements from the original location in Calvert.
"What makes our kolaches special is that we use all-natural ingredients, and our recipes are really authentic," McGraw says. "I think recipes get watered down because people are trying to save money or they don't know the original. My mom never changed anything. These are exactly the way my great-grandmother made them, and she won a lot of awards for them."
They offer 30 flavors, including apple cinnamon, apricot, Bavarian cream, blackberry, black forest, blueberry cream cheese, cherry, chocolate layer cream cheese, coconut cream, cranberry, Key lime, lemon, peach, pecan, pineapple, poppy seed, prune, and more.
They use egg yolks only for the kolaches, which leaves them with a lot of egg whites. "So we also do angel food cakes and meringue cookies," McGraw says.
They're also quick to differentiate between kolaches, the sweet pastries, and klobasnikies, the savory. "That was something my mother was always teaching people, she even had a song about it," McGraw says. "She died young, but she lived her life to the fullest."