These siblings brought Czech pastry for breakfast to Utah
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Mornings arrive early for Zane Poss.
The baker from Bountiful said he arrives at Hruska’s Kolaches in western Jordan every day at 5 a.m., although it is sometimes there as early as 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m.
There, he helps to mix and knead the bread dough, break it into individual pastries, and fill each with a variety of sweet and savory fillings. In Provo, Sugar House and American Fork, bakers from the other three Hruska’s Kolaches establishments do the same.
By the time each location opens at 6:30 a.m., their display cases are filled with dozens of golden-brown breakfast pastries bursting with mixed fruit (like raspberry, blueberry, or peach) or meats, cheeses, and vegetables (like bacon, eggs and cheese; sausage and gravy; or the ranchero, which contains eggs, peppers and onions). They cook and sell until noon, Monday through Saturday.
Poss said he attended the Salt Lake Community College Culinary School and then worked in various kitchens, including the Grand America Hotel.
He came to Hruska during the COVID-19 pandemic, intending to only stay until he found another job, but said he ended up enjoying his new gig more than he did. he didn’t think so.
And one of the best parts of his job, Poss said, is the early hours.
â€œHruska’s has kind of become this sanctuary for me where I can put my passion into food and also have time for the rest of my life,â€ he said.
5 a.m. is a late start by food industry standards, said Cory Hruska, co-owner of Hruska’s Kolaches, but it’s one of the reasons people love working for his company.
â€œWe have had people who quit 55 hour a week jobs paying more to come and work for us because [this job] gives you life, â€he said.
Hruska’s employees aren’t the only ones who love its stores. Walk into any Hruska’s Kolaches store and chances are good that the line will be at the door, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, when each store has a rotating menu of unique kolache flavors only on the weekend.
Famous restaurateur Guy Fieri is also a fan. Hruska’s Kolaches was featured on Fieri’s Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in a 2019 episode called “Handy Helpings”, where Fieri tried the Raspberry Cream Cheese Kolache (“it ‘ is delicious “) and the kolache with sausage and sauce (” it’s tender, it’s soft, there is a lot of depth of flavor “).
Hruska said he and his employees take great pride in the food they prepare. He added that what they do is a real profession.
“These people who come to work for us, they have a real passion for what they do,” he said. “They love it and they are here to serve you.”
Mix their recipes
Hruska said he and his co-owner siblings were originally from Texas and grew up eating their grandmother’s kolaches.
A traditional kolache, he explained, is an Eastern European semi-sweet party and breakfast pastry, similar to donuts.
He said the Americanized version of kolaches, rather than being topped with fruit and other sugary fillings, is stuffed with savory fillings.
Poss said kolaches became important in Texas when Czech immigrants settled there. It was in Texas that kolaches evolved to include savory toppings, he said.
For their kolaches, Hruska said he and his siblings changed their grandmother’s bread dough recipe to be a little sweeter. Their family has “a strong Czech ancestry,” he added.
However, he doesn’t like to say that their stores are taking an Americanized approach to their kolaches. On the contrary, “we are taking our approach,” Hruska said, adding that they were criticized both for not being Czech enough and not being Texan enough. â€œFrom the start, we decided to do it our way. “
Hruska said he studied advertising at Brigham Young University, while his brother Ross graduated in finance and his sister Devin graduated in leisure management and hospitality.
Additionally, Ross had â€œa passion for foodâ€ and had been a chef at several restaurants, Hruska said.
The three of them had the makings of a successful business, Hruska said, although it was Ross who really â€œpushed forwardâ€ the idea of â€‹â€‹running a kolache store.
Their first location opened in April 2014 in Provo, Hruska said, when they were all still full-time students finishing their education.
But the company paid off: They opened their Sugar House location in 2016, their American Fork location in 2019, and their West Jordan location in 2020.
They first struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hruska said, but were able to keep everyone at work with help from the government and through him and his siblings who suffered pay cuts. .
Hruska said they cooked in small batches and everything was “super fresh”.
A batch of kolaches, from start to finish, takes about an hour and a half to make, he added.
Hruska also said they have a “basic menu” meaning flavors they always cook like raspberry cream cheese or bacon, eggs and cheese.
But with the weekend menus in rotation, their chefs get “really creative” when they come up with new flavors. Each place has skilled cooks, he said; one of their managers has worked in France, Spain, Germany and South America, while another employee has a particular flair for Italian cuisine.
Flavors featured in the past include Pina Colada, French Toast, and Peach Bourbon BBQ Chicken.
Poss said he was especially proud of the Cuban kolache and meatball sub-kolache he created.
â€œYou don’t have to follow any rules,â€ Hruska said. â€œGive it good taste. Have fun, express yourself.
Hruska said he and his siblings employed 30 to 35 people between their four locations. As owners, they go shoulder to shoulder in day-to-day operations.
“We work with [our employees] every day, â€he said.
The amount of kolaches made and sold per day fluctuates up and down – they could sell triple the kolaches on a Saturday that they would sell on a Tuesday, for example – but Hruska estimated that on average they were selling around 1,000 kolaches per day. .
He also said it’s a common misconception that they shut down when they sell, but they’ve learned to manage demand. While they may sell for a particular flavor, â€œthere will always be something to come and enjoyâ€ until they close at noon.
Kolash remains, Hruska said, go to surrounding employees or businesses. They would like to donate the leftovers to charity, but laws regarding how fresh food can be donated are strict, he added.
Flavors to try
Hruska said kolaches have become popular in Utah because he and his siblings have carved out a niche for themselves.
They are also â€œreally proud of the way we treat our people,â€ he said. “[Weâ€™re] not only a safe place for workers, but a safe place for customers to come in and eat without feeling looked down upon.
For those new to its stores, Hruska recommended trying their two most popular flavors: Bacon, Egg and Cheese Kolache and Raspberry Kolache.
He said his favorite, however, was the plain cream cheese kolache, as that’s the flavor he grew up eating.
Poss said his favorite savory flavors are sausage and gravy kolache and sausage and jalapeÃ±o kolache; her favorite sweet flavors are maple, pecans and cinnamon.
As well as enjoying their many variations, Poss added that the kolaches helped him find a deeper love for cooking.
“The meaning that the kolaches hold me is purity and simplicity [they] are, â€he said. “And [theyâ€™re] so quick and easy.
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