Back in the Day Bakery’s mission is to get people to “Slow down and taste the sweet life.” This charming bakery in Savannah, Georgia encourages customers to take a moment and relax while enjoying a range of artisanal bread and pastries made fresh daily. Recently voted the “Best of Savannah 2005,” their menu includes everything from old-fashioned Red Velvet Cupcakes, Bread Pudding and Chocolate Chip Cookies to modern creations like brightly colored “Pinky’s” Snowballs, Mojito Cookies and their famed “Baby Cake.”
This successful venture is made possible by the two dedicated owners who are passionate about “preserving the history of food made from scratch” and working to improve the quality of life for the neighborhood they operate in. This combination of great food, service and atmosphere is an admirable achievement, and I was lucky enough to speak with Pastry Chef and Co-Owner, Cheryl Brown, recently about what it takes to run such a special bakery.
1. How did you learn to bake?
I learned from my Mom. She was an excellent baker. I was always fascinated with baking tools and the fact that she could pull a few simple ingredients out of the pantry and whip up something delicious. Even today I tend to use very simple ingredients. I make “Janie Q’s” (a delicate & buttery shortbread cookie) every day in her memory. I started making cookies and then when I got my first “Easy Bake Oven” I moved into cakes and although they were just little boxes of mix, I believe that really taught me the basics of baking.
2. Did you ever consider working as a pastry chef in someone else’s restaurant?
Actually, I would love to start up a working vacation program like other countries do where bakers from other cities could visit other bakeries and share and learn from each other’s experience. I know it is hard for me to get out of town, but something like this would certainly be fun and worth the trip.
3. What time do you wake up in the morning?
We are lucky right now and we don’t open until 9 a.m., but I wake up between 3 and 4 a.m. and leave the bakery at about 6:30 p.m. daily. Of course holidays are really insane and we just keep a couple of cots in the back.
4. What makes Back in the Day Bakery the best in Savannah?
Quality. We bake everything from scratch with the freshest ingredients and we have taken old-fashioned favorites and given them a modern twist. People were really tough on us at first but now they just know it’s all good. Also, the atmosphere of the bakery is so relaxed and comfortable which makes people want to linger and visit often.
5. What’s your best selling item?
The “Baby cake” should have a press agent. Customers come from near and far to take them away in our little pink boxes. I do all flavors, but our signature cake is our chocolate cake iced with Italian buttercream and lots of roses. They were inspired by those easy bake oven cakes I used to bake as a child. Also our star brownies, nana pudding made with homemade shortbread and pinky’s (snowballs with a twist) have quite a following too.
6. Who is “Bread Man Griff?”
Griffith Day (A play on Back in the Day Bakery) is my partner in life and in business. He reads cookbooks like novels just like I do. He shares my dream everyday. He bakes amazing artisan breads that take a great deal of patience and time every single day. Believe it or not we are the ONLY artisan bakery in our area, so when people move to Savannah from other cities they are so thankful for what we do. The first thing they say when they walk in is “What do you have today?” and believe me they are talking about BREAD. They always want to meet “Bread Man Griff.” He is definitely the rock star of the bakery.
7. Has “Product Tester Chyna” ever rejected any of your creations?
Fortunately, we are really tough critics ourselves so she hasn’t had to yet.
8. What’s the toughest part of owning your own bakery?
Finding employees that share a passion and dedication for baking is like finding a needle in a haystack. After almost 2 years in business, I realize that everyone in every phase of our business needs to truly understand what we are all about and that means owning a cookbook. It is not everyday that a “Kelli Bernard” walks in to your life, but when they do you definitely know you struck Gold.
9. Favorite place to have dessert besides your place?
I love Elizabeth on 37th right here in Savannah. It is such a wonderful dining experience from the moment you walk in the door. It is always memorable and I know that I will enjoy every course from the first to the last bite of dessert.
Thank you Cheryl!
Back in the Day Bakery
2403 Bull Street
Savannah, GA 31401
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m – 3:00 p.m
Sunday & Monday: Closed