Correction: Yolande Platvoet's place of birth has been corrected.
Yolande Platvoet was born and reared in South Africa. Her mother was of German descent and her father immigrated from Amsterdam to South Africa when he was 7. Yolande said she always was fascinated with the Netherlands.
“I always wanted to experience all of the things you could see there,” she said recently at her Catoosa eatery, Poppy & Flax Artisan Bakery. “After my schooling in South Africa, I moved to Germany to work as an au pair (nanny), then finally found a position in Amsterdam.”
Meantime, Erwin Platvoet, a Holland native, was working as an engineer in Hoboken, New Jersey. On the last day of a visit back home to visit family, he had a chance meeting with Yolande. Sparks flew.
“We had phone calls back and forth across the ocean, I visited the U.S., and we made a trip together to Paris,” she said. “We married and moved to the U.S.”
Things were going well until the 9/11 attack on the U.S.
“We had a front-row seat, and it changed things for us,” Erwin said. “We moved to Switzerland for a few years, then Belgium, where I worked for an oil company for five years. Both of our children were born in Brussels.”
By this time, they had their eyes on the U.S. again, looking for an attractive place to raise their children. Erwin landed a job as an engineer with John Zink Co., and the couple moved to the Tulsa area in 2009.
“I was a stay-at-home mom, and I started brainstorming ways to sell South African rusks,” Yolande said. “Ex-pats are always looking for something from home. A friend and I started baking and selling rusks to customers in Arkansas and Missouri.”
Rusks are a breakfast staple in South Africa, where people love to dunk them with their first cup of coffee or tea in the morning. They are a hard, double-baked bread, something like biscotti. Yolande likes to dunk them, Erwin prefers them crunchy. We tried them both ways and found each method tasty.
“With the demands of the health department, licenses and all, it was hard to run the business from home,” Yolande said. “I needed to find another way.”
She was accepted into the second Kitchen 66 class, the entrepreneurial program of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, when it was in the Sun Building downtown (it’s in Mother Road Market now).
“I thought I could do more than rusks, so I started baking other things in the European and South African styles,” Yolande said. “I needed a commercial kitchen and found this place for sale in Catoosa.”
Poppy & Flax opened in April 2019, and almost exactly a year later closed for a short time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It currently is open Monday through Friday for drive-through and curbside pickup. Menus and daily specials are posted on its website and Facebook.
“I am thinking about offering dine-in with reservations only so I can control how many people are inside,” Yolande said. “I’m also planning to start opening Saturday mornings at some time. We will put any updates on Facebook.”
Poppy & Flax offers a daily assortment of beautiful and creative shortbreads, cookies, Bundt cakes, scones, cakes, pies, muffins, croissants and artisan breads. In addition to the baked items, the restaurant also offers a variety of savory lunch items, such as chicken salad and garden vegetable croissants.
“We had a Pie Night just before the pandemic, and it drew a huge crowd,” said Erwin, who started his own engineering company with a couple of partners in 2017. “Our parking lot wasn’t big enough. We are looking forward to being able to do that again.”
When customers are allowed to dine in again, they will find a large, inviting space with a variety of tables, chairs and sofas. Live plants add interest to the décor.
Poppy & Flax is on Cherokee Street, the same street that runs in front of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Coming from Tulsa, visitors also can take old Route 66 into Catoosa and turn left at the stoplight at Antry Drive.
“Even with the pandemic, a lot of new people keep coming and discovering us,” Yolande said. “I try to offer things you can’t get anywhere else, and people seem to like that.”
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
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