A new eatery in Van Buren is about to make the town tastier.

The Northern Maine Kolache Co., a popular home pastry business, is about to open its first brick-and-mortar location. The shop will be temporary located at 66 Main Street, before its permanent move to 46 Main Street when construction is complete.

Northern Maine Kolache Co. via Facebook
Northern Maine Kolache Co. via Facebook

The new bakery will be specializing in, you guessed it, kolaches. If you are not familiar with this type of pastry, then be ready to start watering at the mouth. It's a puffy yeast roll that can be filled either with sweet or savory ingredients. They are one of the most creative pastries, with many different and unique variations. The kolache originally hails from Central and Eastern Europe, but is extremely popular in many regions of America.

The Northern Kolache Co. is owned and run by Donita Ayotte, a native Oklahoman who moved with her family to her husband's hometown of Van Buren from Houston, Texas, three years ago. She told me that the Ayotte family has strong roots in the Van Buren community.

My husband wanted to rejoin his father and brother to continue growing the farm operation and I (growing up myself in a small rural town in Oklahoma) did not want my children to grow up around a lot of concrete. Maine just made sense for us to have a strong community.

Ayotte said she never really planned on starting a kolache company. It just sort of happened.

"Kolaches are a Texas thing and ironically were very popular in my hometown as well (which is primarily Polish)," Ayotte said. "It is something we would have when we lived in Texas weekly."

Ayotte started making them for her family, and they were a massive hit. In fact, they were such a success that she was encouraged by a family member to start selling them. So that's exactly what she did.

From her Northern Maine Kolache Co Facebook page, Ayotte would announce when batches of the perfectly cooked pastries would be available. And it would not take long for the word to get out how good they were. The easiest way to tell was how quickly she would post that the batches were sold out.

Northern Maine Kolache Co. via Facebook
Northern Maine Kolache Co. via Facebook

It seemed only natural the next step for Ayotte would be to take the business to the wonderful people of Van Buren and the surrounding communities; an area that she absolutely loves and wants to see grow.

The town manager of Van Buren, Luke Dyer, along with the entire revitalization committee have done an incredible job bringing life back into this area, I just want to do my part in it all. My children will grow up here, I want it to be a place they are proud of, and I want to pass down something to them that they can continue to grow, if they desire to.

So, what makes Ayotte's kolaches so darn good? Well, good luck trying to get the recipe from her. I'm pretty sure she stores it in Fort Knox.

The dough is a family recipe that has been around for a long time, but that I slightly modified and then played a lot with rise time, cooking temps, and time, to get it perfect for what I wanted. My husband jokingly said that I need to treat it like Coca-Cola and tell no one, but to put it on a piece of paper in a safe in case anything ever happens to me.

Ayotte told me most of the fillings are not family recipes, just innovative creations. However, the very popular "Memere's Apple Pie" does come from her mother in-law. Let's be honest, what Maine mother doesn't have an amazing apple pie recipe?

Ayotte says the tentative opening date for the 66 Main Street location is set for January 27. You can follow along with all of the latest news the company's Facebook page.

As a card-carrying Czech American and kolache lover, I wish Ayotte the very best of luck. Here's to many years of sweet and savory success. I look forward to my next trip up north so I can sample every flavor that she has in the store.

Remember to support our wonderful small Maine business owners. They are the true backbone of this amazing state.

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