Laurence Gottlieb doesn’t know exactly how it happened. But his mother once made a baking mistake. And out came a chewy chocolate cookie that everyone came back for.
Gottlieb’s bakery, satisfying Savannah’s sweet tooth since 1885, originally called that delicious mistake the Comeback Cookie. It’s now the legendary Chocolate Chewy.
“It’s always been duplicated but never replicated,” he says. “There’s a secret ingredient that my father put under lock and key to make sure we understood it wasn’t to be public.”
The Chocolate Chewy is just one of the decadent desserts you can enjoy again now that the Gottlieb brothers are back in the kitchen with their own name on the sign outside.
They have breads, cakes and cookies. After a few hard learning experiences, including a fancy downtown restaurant and a side business with BBQ in the suburbs, Michael and Laurence are returning to the tried and true, what made the family name a local brand.
“Every couple of days we bring something new back from the old recipe book,” Michael says. “And Laurence adds to it some French inspirations that he picked up on his travels.”
So you’ll find croissants and other delicate delights in the bakery’s showcase, ideas from Laurence’s years working at high-end restaurants, including in Virginia and Colorado.
Michael also worked at top-flight restaurants across the country but on the meat and main dish side. The brothers hint at returning to a deli concept or some other savory offerings.
But right now and rightly, they’re focused on making the bakery work and reestablishing their relationships with old customers and making new relationships with new residents.
“There are so many new people to Savannah that moved here from all around that don’t know Gottlieb’s,” Laurence says. “We want to make sure this establishment’s solid.”
The last time any eatery with the name Gottlieb’s existed in Savannah was 14 years ago, a lifetime for many but practically yesterday for others, including our king of ice cream.
Leopold’s, opened in 1919, used Gottlieb’s Chocolate Chewy for their ice cream of the same name. They also used Gottlieb’s almond macaroons in their famous “tutti fruity.”
Well, guess what? Just this week, Leopold’s got their first shipment of the Gottlieb’s good stuff in a long, long time. I say have both this week! There’s no diet in summer!
On the serious side, all this talk about the hard side of the bakery business makes me think of just how stressful it is to succeed in any competitive and creative industry.
Over the years, both Laurence and Michael saw the consuming passion that hospitality puts on its workers: long and irregular hours, the altered appearance of happiness.
So that’s why Gottlieb’s bakery will donate a percentage of Chocolate Chewy profits in August to the Heirloom Foundation, promoting mental health awareness nationwide.
“I was moved, thinking about my past jobs, people I have worked for,” Laurence says of his long days in restaurants. “And having lost one too many friends within the industry.”
I wish nothing but the best for all those who toil to make my food. But especially these two brothers carrying on a family tradition in spite of all the obstacles. It’s damn hard.
Come to think of it, it’s damn hard writing articles, producing radio shows, running tours and trying to make any kind of honest life in the world today. I just might need a cookie!
And another lap around Lake Mayer! The new Gottlieb’s is inside the shopping plaza at Eisenhower Drive and Waters Avenue. That’s conveniently just a mile from my house.