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Boehne Bogacki Finds Balance between Business Ownership and Parenthood

In celebration of Women’s History Month, St. Louis Community College is spotlighting outstanding women who are breaking down barriers and excelling in their lives and careers. Mary Boehne Bogacki, a 2007 graduate of STLCC, is one of these women. 

Mary Boehne BogackiRarely do entrepreneurs take a straight path to their passion. They need to lay building blocks, sometimes in places they never imagined, to prepare for when it’s time to plunge into their dream.

Mary Boehne Bogacki is no different. A graduate of St. Louis Community College’s culinary arts program and a 2019 Hospitality Studies Wall of Fame inductee, she did a little of this and some of that en route to her current position.

Boehne Bogacki is the owner of Yolklore, one of the most popular breakfast/brunch restaurants in the St. Louis area.

“It was a different vibe than just starting a new job,” Boehne Bogacki said. “You’re putting everything, all of the years, all of the other experiences that I accumulated, in order to finally achieve this goal that had been my goal for the entirety of my career.”

After graduating from STLCC, Boehne Bogacki transferred to the University of Missouri and earned her bachelor’s degree. She then studied in Austria before moving back to the United States, where she worked in fine dining at Four Seasons – in Colorado and St. Louis. She even had a stop at Strange Donuts in St. Louis before creating Yolklore.

The restaurant, opened in July 2016, has experienced the same growing pains that most small businesses feel and the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic put on all restaurants. Two partners who helped start the company are no longer involved after Boehne Bogacki bought out the second partner in December.

Growing the Business

Boehne Bogacki has had to reshape the menu to better meet the economic needs of running the restaurant while staying true to the farm-to-table concept. She’s added a build-your-own breakfast sandwich and the ability to order online. She’s also made the difficult but necessary decision to close the restaurant on Mondays and Tuesdays to create some work/life balance.

“Becoming a mom has pushed that life balance to its max; it’s really been a challenge,” said Boehne Bogacki, who has a four-year-old daughter, Margot. “If I have to be closed Mondays and Tuesdays and not make ‘x’ number of dollars those days in order to have those days dedicated just to be mom, that’s what I’ll do.”

But despite the twists and the turns, Boehne Bogacki is just about where she wants to be. She’s been in the same location since the restaurant opened and her sister Chris, an architect, helped re-imagine the space into the 38-seat store it is.

It’s the perfect fit – for now. There’s always talk about what comes next.

“That was a big part of the goal – to either open up another one or have a bigger location,” she said. “Ideally, we’d have a bigger location, but right now, the space is working well. Opening another one would be amazing. I’ve been taking this time to figure out the numbers and what works.”

Mary Boehne BogackiBalancing Work with Life

Michelle Ikemeier started working at Yolklore when it opened. She has steadily moved around the restaurant from the front of the house – customer-facing – to the back of the house – cooking – to now serving as the restaurant’s general manager. She’s also working on her third degree from St. Louis Community College, the latest in hospitality management, and said that she’s learned a great deal from working with Boehne Bogacki.

There’s the attention to details toward the product and the emphasis on the welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant that Ikemeier appreciates. She also has taken notice how Boehne Bogacki pours so much into the local community to build a relationship between the city of Crestwood and Yolklore.

But those traits can be found in most small business owners. What stands out to Ikemeier is how Boehne Bogacki does all of that, cares so deeply for her nine-person staff and, most importantly, balances it all with being a single mother.

“Mary is literally one of the most hard-working women I have ever met, and I really appreciate that about her,” Ikemeier said. “She brings her passion and positivity to the workplace, and she really does care not only about her store and her business, but about every single one of the employees. I feel like you don’t see that too often.”

Boehne Bogacki takes great pride in her nearly all-female team, about half of which is made up of STLCC graduates or STLCC students.

But as much pride and love as she has for her restaurant and her employees, nothing compares to Margot. Boehne Bogacki has had to learn to find a balance between being a successful business owner and being the mom Margot deserves.

“Opening a business in itself is like having a child, and then when you throw in having a child on top of that, it’s quite the adjustment,” she said. “That first six months to a year, as a mom, society puts all that on you to be home and take care of your baby. I’m very career focused, so it was an adjustment. I think having that balance that when I’m home from work, I’m home from work. When I’m at work, I’m at work.

“I take pride in bringing her to work and having her seeing what I do,” she added. “I want her to see what hard work and a career looks like from her mom.”

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