Marion’s CB Baked Goods approaches 100,000th bierock

Sometime around the first of May, Rachel Collett will sell the 100,000th handmade bierock from the CB Baked Goods take-out kitchen she opened nearly seven years ago in a historic Main

Street building in Marion, Kansas.

“When I started, I thought I wouldn’t make enough to pay the bills,” says Collett, whose previous professional cooking experience was lunch lady at her children’s private school. “I

knew everybody loved bierocks here. This was a food their grandmothers made, their great-grandmothers.”

The traditional Eastern European savory is yeast bread dough filled with ground beef, cabbage, onions, salt, pepper and a little cheese for binding. Collett’s sweetened dough recipe is a secret –

she uses it for cinnamon rolls and sticky buns as well as the variations on bierocks that her daughter Maggie named bolsos, Spanish for “purse.”

Breakfast bolsos come with scrambled egg, sausage and cheese; ham and leek bolsos with spinach, Italian cheese blend and parmesan; pizza bolsos with pepperoni, sausage and cheese;

and Mexican chicken bolsos with rice, black beans, corn, peppers, cheese and spices.

“They’re time-consuming,” says Collett, who hires some part-time help for mixing and kneading dough, browning beef, chopping cabbage, and stuffing the mixture into 3 ounces of dough. “I’ve

gotten it down to where I can make them in my sleep.”

The to-go-only business boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic when most other eateries were closed.

“My business increased over 20 percent,” she says. “They weren’t going out to restaurants. They were tired of eating their own cooking.”

The meal-sized bierocks freeze and microwave well. Many customers order by the dozen in advance. People drive from Wichita to shop, and vacationers from almost every state have made a stop on their trips.

The store has posted hours, but Collett has been known to come downstairs to sell some frozen bierocks if a customer calls.

Collett’s husband Randy grew up on a nearby family farm, and they returned to Marion after his career in telecommunications. He worked as Marion’s economic development director. They bought the 1911 limestone building on Main Street, the hospital where his father Howard was born in 1929, and transformed it into their 3,000-square-foot home upstairs and three street-level retail spaces, including the 20- by 40-foot bakery (cbbakedgoods.com).

Collett, who tracks orders through a point-of-sale app, sees them fluctuate each week, but she’s close to 100,000. She’s gathering a gift basket from local businesses to surprise whoever orders that bierock – a night’s stay at a boutique hotel, restaurant gift certificates, swag from her son Zachary’s Tap Truck Kansas.

“Once it’s happened, I’ll have free cookie day,” she says. “Come celebrate with me.”

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