Ranch Bakery is back. Starting this weekend, the bakery that serves Texas kolaches filled with temptations like smoked brisket, andouille sausage and bourbon-peach jam alongside filled pretzel rolls and cowboy cupcakes will be reborn at Cypress barbecue joint The Backyard Smokehouse.
Never heard of Ranch Bakery? That's probably not surprising.
The location started as a catering kitchen on an obscure stretch of Barker Cypress between Cypress and Katy. The bakery closed last March after failing to fund a Kickstarter campaign to start a food truck.
"Foodies and food nerds into cool, unique products found me, but they aren't bread and butter customers."
"A bakery is exceptionally hard work," owner John Homrighausen tells CultureMap. "Foodies and food nerds into cool, unique products found me, but they aren't bread and butter customers . . . It was a great destination but didn't have the support of the locals."
So Homrighausen regrouped. He resumed his work as a consultant for large-scale catering operations. "A lot of food guys are artists," he says. "I bring a different perspective and project management background" in the form of systems that are scalable.
Then, the owner of The Backyard Smokehouse approached him about helping to transform the restaurant by adding catering. "It was a barbecue joint without a muse. No soul or spirit to it," Homrighausen says.
As they were working together to revive the restaurant, the owner learned about Ranch Bakery and the enthusiasm its fans still had for it. "He asked me, 'Why aren't you trying to get that started again?' " Homrighausen says.
After testing the waters on Facebook, Homrighausen decided to reopen Ranch Bakery inside The Backyard Smokehouse. He's modeled the effort after El Campo's legendary Prasek's Smokehouse that combines a meat counter, bakery and barbecue joint all under one roof.
For now, the kolaches and other breakfast items will only be available on the weekend when the Smokehouse is open for breakfast. Other Ranch Bakery pastries will be available as desserts at lunch and dinner. The restaurant itself has been remade with counter service, a new menu and a carefully curated selection of craft beer. "The barbecue has come light years, but it still has a little farther to go," Homrighausen says.
As for the menu, Homrighausen isn't quite ready to commit to specifics beyond core items like sausage and cheese kolaches, pretzel rolls and bacon scones. Those brisket kolaches, an occasional item that always sold out quickly, will make more regular appearances now that the bakery has merged with a barbecue joint, but they may not be available every weekend.
"I live my life extemporaneously, but, in baking, the only way to be extemporaneous is with filings," Homrighausen says. Therefore, he'll be inspired by the seasons and serve one-offs like the Thanksgiving Hangover, a kolache stuffed with turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce. "We sold more sixers (trays of six kolaches) than singles," Homrighausen recalls with a laugh.
While he's happy to be closer to the bakery's fans in Cypress, Homrighausen isn't looking forward to the time commitment a bakery requires. "It truly is a pleasure/pain thing for me. Even when I'm working through the week, I have to get here at 3 a.m.," he says.
"But I'm an attention whore, so there's a payoff to that."