With nearly fifty years of history in operation, Kolache Shoppe is a Houston area staple for delicious, hand-crafted, and baked from scratch kolaches. Expanding on the success of their longtime Greenway Plaza location, Kolache Shoppe was beginning plans for their second location in Houston’s Heights neighborhood and took the opportunity to reinvigorate their brands and assets for the opportunities presented by the new market.
Scope of work
- Interior space design
- Brand refinement
Kolache Shoppe had done a substantial business in carry out purchases at their original Greenway Plaza location. With a large business community in the area, they are a frequent stop for those on their way into the office. In contrast, their new location in the Heights serves a heavily residential neighborhood. This added the possibility of dine in customers throughout the morning in addition to the drive-thru and takeout customers of the early morning commute.
Because of this change in audience and service, we treated the new location as an evolution of the brand into a more fast casual/café or bakery model which required refinement and modernization of presentation.
We began by making minor adjustments to the original logo icon and wordmark. A typeface with a sophisticated modern/European style was chosen and paired with a redrawn, cleaned up icon. The adjustments not only served an aesthetic purpose to set the tone of the Shoppe, they also were designed to be more flexible and scalable—creating stronger legibility at a variety of scales.
The most notable change to the existing brand assets was the addition of a variety of patterns that appear as a bold wallpaper throughout the space and on custom packaging items. Patterning plays a prominent part in many aspects of Czech culture including embroidery, pottery, dwellings, and most notably, painted eggs that were exchanged as a symbol of love, friendship, and new beginnings. We looked to this tradition to create a bold pattern which draws from the intricate floral of these historical patterns, but simplified and given a contemporary edge.
We applied these same ideals and inspirations to the design of the new, approximately 1,200 square foot space in the Heights Central development (designed by Kirksey Architects). With partnering architect Cisneros Design Studio—who managed permitting, structural, and planning concerns—we designed a customer experience that balanced a slight Czech country feel and history, with that of a modern European café.
As the space has an extremely tall vaulted ceiling, we chose to wrap the upper wall under the floating ceiling in a bold navy and grey wallpaper of the brand pattern to create intimacy. Recycled wood millwork and custom shelving and brackets bring warmth against the cool, thin veined marble countertops and cracked white tile. The centerpiece of the space is a custom, internally lit, white enameled Kolache bakery rack fabricated and designed by Dumptruck Design.
Kolache Shoppe’s site plan presented a few challenges for signage due to their placement as well as the need to appeal to foot and automobile traffic. With large trees that would remain in front of the building’s east face, and a view to the building obstructed on most sides by other development, we needed to count on visibility from a variety of options and give guidance to drivers entering the drive-thru from two entrances. To complicate things further, back of house windows would be blacked out due to obstruction form equipment and all signage needed to meet with the Heights Historic Preservation Society guidelines (in addition to City of Houston).
We began by utilizing a line based version of the pattern as a “skirt” on the lower portion of the windows around the building. This not only created additional intimacy for the interior which is framed by floor to ceiling glass, but also created unity and visual interest for the obstructed rear windows. Primary signage is awning mounted shaped aluminum letterforms with exterior lighting, accented by round blade signs to provide secondary assistance. For some variety, rear facing primary signage has the bird perched on the end of the wordmark in lieu of the full logo icon. Other components include a custom neon open sign, a dimensional logo sign in the interior, and our favorite detail— the unique hex tile “kolache” inlay we created for the front door.