DC’s Only Kolache Purveyor Is Shutting Down

Republic Kolache introduced many Washingtonians to the Czech-Texan pastries five years ago.

Lemon berry kolache. Photo courtesy of Republic Kolache.

If you want a kolache, go to Texas. DC’s only purveyor of the pillowy stuffed Czech pastries, Republic Kolache, is closing down on November 8 after five years.

Republic Kolache drew epic lines, particularly from Texas expats, when it introduced DC to the Lone Star state staple with a series of pop-ups in 2015. The operation riffed on the sweet and savory pastries with fillings such as saag paneer or half-smoke in addition to the classic sausage-and-egg or cream-cheese-and-pecan. A loyal following helped owner Chris Svetlik open Tex-Mex restaurant Republic Cantina in Truxton Circle last year. Meanwhile, the kolache business, which operated out of Tastemakers’ incubator kitchen in Brookland, primarily focused on wholesale and supplied coffeeshops like Compass Coffee, Zeke’s, and Peregrine.

When the pandemic hit, orders dropped 80 percent—many cafes closed or dropped the kolaches to cut their own costs.

“We waited it out and tried to see some movement in the other direction and just never really did. So eventually, made that tough choice and realized that continuing operations just wasn’t sustainable anymore,” Svetlik says. He adds that it’s “maybe possible” that the kolaches will return down the line, but “realistically, for the indefinite future, this is probably the end of the road.”

Republic Kolache will continue accepting final orders though the weekend, with pick-up at Republic Cantina available until November 8. Svetlik says that his Tex-Mex restaurant has remained much more “resilient” throughout the pandemic.

Still, Svetlik says: “the story of Cantina and the story of what I’ve invested my life into over the past five years all starts from kolache.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.