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For local Czech bakery, business is a-boomin'

Jan. 29, 2010

Jed Dean | photo editor
Gerik's Ole Czech Bakery & Deli is open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. It recently opened at 601 Franklin in downtown Waco. They serve pastries and offer homemade lunch specials Monday-Friday. Anderson also owns the Pizza House and Gerik's Old Czech Bakery in West.

By Stephanie Lee

For many Baylor students, home is where the heart is, and most of the time, home cooking means a great deal.

One Waco business owner does just that.

West resident Jeanne Anderson expanded her baking expertise when she opened up Gerik's Ole Czech Bakery and Deli in September in downtown Waco.

For Anderson, branching her Czech roots outside of West was simple.

"I own Pizza House and Gerik's Ole Czech Bakery in West," she said. "It's always been my dream to have like a European bakery, a mix of Czech and French cultures."

The quaint restaurant is stacked with layers of cake and Czech pastries made by Czech women who begin baking the day before the next day of service.

The workers are all West residents who have known Anderson for a number of years and are experienced at this craft.

This European flair with a Czech twist brought great feedback from local residents.

"This is the old Olive Branch downtown Waco," Anderson said."The previous owners called me back in April and asked if I wanted it, and I said yes. I can put my girly touch on it and make it my own."

Anderson said there are about 50 menu items, and because of that, the choices are endless.

"We have homemade lunch specials every day, Monday through Friday. We'll have a full deli in a couple of weeks with hotdogs and pizza slices," she said. "Kolaches are a favorite to many, and we are just five minutes from the Baylor campus."

Baylor employee and West resident Loretta Volcik believes having this establishment is very rewarding and convenient.

"What I like most about having Gerik's close to Baylor is that if I get that craving for a taste of the Pizza House of West, I can just go take care of it at lunch," she said.

Anderson said the business is booming.

"Our sausage and kraut is the best-selling item. We go through gallons. We sell about 60 hamburgers a day," Anderson said.

Although many people are interested in how these unique dishes are made, Anderson is true to her secrets.

"Our skunk eggs are so popular, but I can't tell you what's in it," she said.

"Everyone thinks skunks lay eggs, but this is not true. We were sitting at Pizza House in West, and I put a bunch of stuff together and fried it, and that's the skunk egg."

Anderson said one ingredient is essential for her delicious kolaches.

"It's all about the butter. You have to coat them in butter. That makes your mouth water."

"However, there's one secret ingredient too, and I can't tell you that. Everyone likes it though, and I love keeping my customers interested," Anderson said.

Anderson also said the variety of customers is endless.

"Since there are so many businesses nearby, we have anyone from lawyers to students," Anderson said. Houston sophomore Adrien Lavergne said he is happy the bakery is in Waco.

"Now, students like me don't have to drive 20 minutes to West, and that saves gas," he said. "We enjoy this food."

Family was the biggest influence to Anderson's success.

"It's my passion. I just love to cook, and so do my boys. Every day, I cooked with my aunt and my mom. There were six kids, and I always did the cooking, no matter what," Anderson said.

"My aunt always taught me how to make different seasonings for meat. My aunt would babysit us, and we would make kolaches every other day and bread too."

And helping people brings her great pleasure.

"Cooking and baking are my passions," Anderson said.

"I enjoy serving and cooking food for everybody. I've gotten lots of good compliments in Waco, and the lines go out the door constantly, but I love it."

Because of heightened popularity, the restaurant will undergo changes this coming weekend. Beginning next Monday, the bakery will have seating for about 120 people.

The old-fashioned Czech tradition gives many the taste of home."It's so unique because everything I cook is homemade. When my mom and aunt taught me to cook, I know what kind of chicken to use in my chicken and dumplings to make the flavor come out. Everything I make is just down-home southern cooking. It's fresh, not frozen," Anderson said.

The old-fashioned Czech family recipe is what Anderson will continue to use as she satisfies taste buds in Central Texas.

The bakery is located at 601 Franklin Ave. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m.-3 p.m.