In Fort Worth, kolaches are a snap

Greg Saltsman and Wade Chappell

Pearl Snap Kolaches

Location of new store: 2743 Hulen St.

Hours: 6 a.m.-noon weekdays, 7 a.m.-noon weekends.

Location of original store: 4006 White Settlement Rd.

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Hours: 6 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. weekends.

Phone: 817-233-8899 (both).

Web site:

A few years ago, a couple of guys who would go on to be best friends and business partners tossed around some ideas over a cup of coffee.

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Now, Wade Chappell and Greg Saltsman sell coffee – along with some of the most popular kolaches to be found, certainly in Fort Worth. Their business is Pearl Snap Kolaches and the pair are celebrating the recent opening of their new store at 2743 Hulen St., near Trader Joe’s.

“Our friendship started over a cup of coffee,” Chappell recalled. “I asked, ‘If you could wake up every day doing what you love, what would it be?’ “

Turns out it would be making delicious kolaches. The public certainly likes the choice they made.

“I’m grateful to Wade for asking that question,” Saltsman said. “We have been blessed with the people who work for us, our customers. It’s by the grace of God we’ve gotten this far.

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“Neither of us is Czech. We just love the food.”

They aren’t the only ones. Starting with their own little area in another popular restaurant, the Lunch Box, they created, sold and delivered their goodies for a couple years. Then, in 2015 they decided it was time to go out on their own, so they opened their first location at 4006 White Settlement Road, which they call their “international headquarters.”

The White Settlement location’s massive kitchen will still be the preparatory spot for all the baked goods at both stores.

“It doesn’t feel like four years, well, seven years really, since Greg and I made our trip to Central Texas,” Chappell said. “We have sampled in every community in Texas that calls itself a kolache capitol.

“I’m not sure anything will pass that first day of deliveries and preparations at the Lunch Box. You thought you’d be home in four hours, and then you’re calling the wife and saying you’ll be late.”

Kolaches, well known to Fort Worth travelers headed south from the Czech Stop along Interstate 35 in West, were originally a doughy, semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe. Coming to Central Texas, they’ve morphed into a wide variety of combinations, filled with cheese, sausage and other flavors.

But a decade ago Chappell or Saltsman were only involved in kolaches when they ate them.

Saltsman was at TCU getting a master’s in business administration and Chappell had left the oil and gas industry to help in his father’s law office. Then, Saltsman was referred to them for research, and the friendship began.

As for why they expanded to a second store, well, the timing was simply right, Chappell said.

“We see on a daily basis Fort Worth is a fast-growing city,” Chappell said. “We knew we were going to be fighting for market space, so we would rather people be fighting us for market space.”

Also, the demand was high.

“We heard from so many people, ‘Could you put a location closer to our house so I can get to you on weekdays?’ ” Saltsman said.

The new shop features only kolaches, whereas the original location still has items such as breakfast sandwiches, hamburgers and breakfast tacos.

The most popular items at both places are the original three kolaches, sausage and cheese, sausage and cheese with jalapeno and cream cheese.

“My favorite has always been the sweet cream cheese,” Chappell said.

Customers are also fans of their coffee, which is provided by Big Bend Coffee Roasters in Marfa. That, combined with the expertise of head barista Jenn Orhood, makes for one delicious cup of Joe, Chappell said.

“She knows everything about every region (for beans),” he said.

And for those who are not coffee drinkers, there’s a good variety of soft drinks, iced tea, orange juice, apple juice and more. There’s also iced coffee for those who like coffee but are in the mood for something chilled.

Both locations have a 25-foot chalkboard for children to entertain themselves on.

“To be able to walk into a store and say to your kid, ‘Go! I’m getting the food’ is real nice,” Saltsman said.

“We’ll get an artistic type adult in sometimes who will put something nice on there,” Chappell said. “It’s a shame to wipe it off, but it is mostly for the kids. We’ve also had ‘Go Frogs!’ put on there a few times.”

They also specialize in speedy customer service. There’s no drive-through, but who needs one they say? They even have a sign out front informing people of such.

“We can get you in and out in five minutes. We’re faster than a drive-through,” Saltsman said.

And speaking of customer service, while they are human and with that comes the occasional mistake, they will more than make up for any. For example, when some folks couldn’t get served before closing in the new store’s opening days, they handed out wooden nickels – which were actually worth $5 – to be used on the next visit.

And there was a time when they mistakenly gave a customer the wrong order. Chappell ran into the parking lot to catch the man as he was backing out in his truck, just in time to give the customer a $75 gift card.

“He almost ran me over without even knowing it,” Chappell said. “He said, that’s insane, you’re giving me $75 for a $5 sandwich?

“That act of coming out from behind the counter, shaking their hand, saying we want you back. That makes a big difference.”

Over their short time in business, Pearl Snap Kolaches has won many awards. Most recently, it won the Best Burger Award – the White Settlement location serves burgers but not the Hulen location – at the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival’s 2017 Burgers, Brews and Blues.

“That was a great opportunity for us. Another kolache shop wanted to enter and so I said, ‘We want to enter the burger competition,’ ” Chappell said. “I felt it was a chance to showcase our burgers.”

And while the original delivery truck has gone on to that great junk yard in the sky – actually, its parts are decorating the wall of the new store – they still deliver.

“If you order two dozen or more, deliveries are free,” Chappell said. “Office parties, employee appreciation days, we’d love to fulfill that for any size business.”

Chappell said more expansion could be on the horizon, though they aren’t setting any deadlines. He listed Aledo, the Mid-Cities and Dallas as possibilities.

“Conventional wisdom is don’t open a location you can’t reach in less than an hour,” he said, noting that recently he got a phone call from Saltsman for a minor emergency and is thankful one store is so close to the other.

But their product has traveled quite a distance, Chappell proudly said. A soldier on his way home to Sicily ordered some goodies for the trip.

“He said I need three dozen right now. He said he was going to carry them on his lap the whole trip,” Chappell said. “To think our product has made it that far in the world is pretty cool.”