Russ Clark is gearing up to bring classic Czech-style kolache to even more diners.

The owner of St. Louis Kolache is opening a sister franchise concept, American Kolache, with plans to expand to 12 states surrounding Missouri.

Clark opened the first location of St. Louis Kolache in Creve Coeur, Missouri, in October 2015, and the business has quickly expanded with sister stores in Clayton and Ballwin. Clark says locations in the area – including one slated soon for Edwardsville, Illinois – will continue to be named under the St. Louis Kolache moniker, with other stores around the country carrying the American Kolache name.

The menu at American Kolache will feature around 30 kolaches from St. Louis Kolache's regular menu, including popular offerings like the bacon, egg and cheese; sausage and gravy; and Philly cheesesteak. The new stores will also serve a few location-specific menu items, such as Texas brisket or Kansas City burnt ends.

"I think the thing that's going to make this fun is that at St. Louis Kolache, we’ve really embraced being able to do collaborations and getting involved in the local community with things like gooey butter cake and [collaborations with] Pappy’s [Smokehouse] and Gioia’s [Deli] and all the fun restaurants in town," Clark says. "So we thought we would take that concept and bring that around to the other cities."

American Kolache stores will closely resemble the Clayton location of St. Louis Kolache, which opened in April sporting a revamped design for the brand. Clark worked with locally based Lori O Interiors on the design, featuring elements like a chandelier made of whisks and custom wallpaper with whisks, spatulas and rolling pins.

St. Louis Kolache also offers beverage menus in partnership with Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Co., and Clark says American Kolache will follow suit, working with local coffee suppliers in the respective markets.

As for those markets, Clark says he'd love to open a store in Kansas City as soon as possible, and also has his eyes on Springfield, Missouri. Other markets could include Michigan and Iowa, and he's even had interest from as far away as Arizona and Virginia.

St. Louis Kolache, multiple locations, stlkolache.com

Heather Riske is the digital editor at Feast.

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