Kolache Factory announced the promotion of Dawn Nielsen from Vice-President to Chief Operating Officer effective immediately.
The 44 -year-old daughter of Kolache Factory co-founders, John and Jerri Banks, Nielsen has been groomed for this position for 36 years, ever since her parents popularized the kolache—a Czech pastry filled with fruits, meats and cheeses—in West Texas by opening the first Kolache Factory store in Houston in 1982.
“I am so proud of what my parents built. It’s not easy to go into the restaurant industry with a totally new concept and make it. They blazed a path and I am excited and honored to move it forward and continue building on their amazing legacy with an aggressive nationwide franchise expansion,” says Nielsen.
Nielsen started out sweeping floors at the first Kolache Factory store when she was nine years old. As a teenager she worked behind the counter and as a kolache baker. After graduating from Houston Baptist University with degrees in Business Administration and Art, she began working in marketing and advertising, and was instrumental in marketing the Kolache Factory’s transition to a franchise company in 2000. Her role expanded upon her mother’s death ten years ago and she became Vice President. Now she is ready to step up again to lead the successful franchise her parents built from scratch as chief operating officer. In overseeing the company’s 175 corporate employees and 31 franchised stores, Nielsen is heavily focused on using new technologies to educate franchisees, boost revenue, and build customer loyalty.
Kolache Factory President/CEO and co-founder John Banks says his daughter has hit the ground running in her new position.
“Dawn has literally grown up with the Kolache Factory and has continually added the knowledge and skills necessary to help grow the brand. She has already brought great things to the family franchise and I am excited to see where we can take this company together in the future,” says Banks.
The kolache has a rich history dating back centuries in Eastern Europe and to the 1850’s in the Czech belt of Texas. Still, there are places around the country and world that have never heard of a kolache and Nielsen’s goal is to bring the fresh, high quality breakfast food created by master bakers, to the masses.
“I think we have a unique product that hasn’t even scratched the surface of what its potential can be. There are still markets that don’t know what we are. Expansion is the goal. John and I share the vision of making kolache a household name,” says Nielsen.
The fresh doughy pastry that started out stuffed with fruits has evolved to include all sorts of savory and spicy meat and cheese fillings, and in many communities, the kolache has a cult following. Today, Czech- Americans hold kolache festivals all over the country, adding to the pastry’s rising popularity. Bon Appetit Magazine predicted the kolache would be the new breakfast trend and entrepreneurs now praise it as the “new generation of donut.” The breakfast day part is growing, and according to a Mintel report, breakfast sales are expected to increase by more than 20 percent over a two-year period.
To capitalize on that growth and take the company to the next level, Nielsen is focusing on creating strategic partnerships that will benefit the whole system. She has already invested in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to use new technology to improve business relationships and has partnered with a leading content marketing firm, social media firm and franchise development firm, to drive brand recognition.
“I am focused on building the most efficient systems and processes with our partners so that both our corporate stores and franchisees will benefit. The better our system, the more attractive we will be to future franchisees,” says Nielsen.
There are currently 27 corporate stores and 31 franchise stores with three more stores slated to open this year.
When she is not overseeing the strategic growth of the Kolache Factory, Nielsen and her husband Aaron, Director of Franchise Sales for the company, and daughters Sabrina and Paige, enjoy going to the lake and spending time at their ranch in East Texas. She also enjoys keeping up with her menagerie of horses and chickens.
Kolache Factory was founded in 1982 in Houston, Texas, by John and Jerri Banks, who identified a need for a fresh, high-quality breakfast that could be eaten “on the run.” The Banks’ encouraged consumers to try the high-quality, fresh pastries filled with fruits, meat and cheeses and soon they were in high demand for business meetings, family breakfasts, on-the-go lunches and afternoon snacks. Kolache Factory has been recognized as one of the Top 5 Drive-Thrus in America by Food Network, one of the fastest growing companies in Houston and one of the top 50 food service bakeries in the United States by Modern Baking magazine. In addition, Franchise Times magazine recently named Kolache Factory one of the 300 biggest brands in franchising by worldwide sales in 2017. In addition, Entrepreneur magazine named it among the top 200 food-based franchises in 2017. Kolache Factory is privately owned and operated and headquartered in Katy, Texas.