DALLAS, Texas – Tara McGraw opened the Zamykal Kolache bakery in Dallas a year ago, but Texans have enjoyed the Czech dessert for decades.
"Texas has a very large Czech population. A lot of people don't realize that they came over and landed in Galveston and then made their way up through Central Texas," said McGraw.
A kolache is a type of pastry that holds fruit, chocolate or even cream cheese – and the Zamykal recipe has been perfected.
The "Crazy Kolache Lady" of Calvert, Texas
Making the same treats her ancestors first brought to Texas wasn't McGraw's career plan. But it was the dream of her mother, who also came up with the famous "Kolache song."
"When I first opened, the cars would pass, and no one looked from side to side," McGraw's mom, Jody Powers, said in a 2009 interview with the Texas Country Reporter.
The "Zamycal Kolache" Song Makes its Debut
"They were mainly interested in whether they were going to catch the signal light or not. So I just got out there with my towel and basically started waving at them and then in my waving, I just got bored and started making up a tune and it got rhythmic and the 'Zamycal Kolache' song was born," Powers continued.
"My mother had more energy than anyone I have ever met in my entire life," McGraw said. "She had a very big personality, she was bubbly, she was the lady that when she walked into the room, that's when the party started and she did everything, she could do anything...so when she decided she was going to do the kolaches she was going to do it big, so she got into it and she had fun."
That was in Calvert, Texas – a small town between College Station and Waco. Locals lovingly knew Powers as, "The Crazy Kolache Lady."
But then she got sick. And in 2015, McGraw's mother lost her battle with Leukemia. The store closed.
An Unexpected Blessing
"I ended up with a bakery full of equipment and I didn't know what to do with it, so I thought, 'Well, we can bake kolaches,'" McGraw said.
At first, she considered the idea of opening her own bakery as a gift to her late mother, then she realized it was really a gift for her.
"She sang her song, 'It's the best kolache cause the Lord gave it to me,' and I thought, 'OK, God gave this to her and God gave this to me, so I'm going to go and take it and I'm going to sing the song and it's just a way to spread the Word a little bit,'" McGraw said.
She went for it – but quickly found out that getting things up and running wouldn't be easy. McGraw faced a pretty steep learning curve.
Crazy Kolache Lady's Legacy Lives On
"When my mom was alive I wouldn't learn to make the kolaches because she was sick and I wanted her to live and make them...My aunt came in and she helped get the place going, but then it was time for her to back to Houston...and I still didn't know how to do it all that well," McGraw said.
"I knew the steps and I'd done them one at a time, but I had to take all the steps and put them together. So I got in there and I said, 'OK, here we go, here we go mom.'"
Now that she's got the hang of things – Tara has big plans for Zamykal Kolaches.
"We're expanding. We have the kolaches, but we've added some new product lines of our fudge – that's coming a few weeks – and we're going to be doing freshly baked pies," McGraw said.
So then, "The Crazy Kolache Lady" of Calvert, Texas lives on – continuing to touch the lives of commuters with a sweet tooth – and forever, the life of her daughter.