Cheryl Day learned to bake the way many of us in the South did: by watching her loved ones whip up sweet treats in the kitchen. She was just 8 years old when she started baking alongside her grandmother, but the passion for it never left her. Now she and her husband, Griff, are the proud owners of the acclaimed Back in the Day Bakery in downtown Savannah, Georgia. The doors opened in 2002, and they’ve built a loyal base of customers that now spans all across the world.
Is there a favorite recipe you and your grandmother made together?
I absolutely loved her chocolate church cake. It was just a decadent chocolate cake, but I fell in love with it because it was simple to make. She’d use the freshest ingredients to get the richest flavor, and it made a difference in a recipe like that. That was the kind of cake you wished would be waiting for you at home after a long morning church service.
What was the inspiration behind opening Back in the Day Bakery?
Griff and I had always had really great food experiences living in neighborhoods with great delis and cheesemongers. When we came to Savannah, there weren’t really any artisan bakeries yet, so we decided to create a place to honor the nostalgia we all get for Southern baked goods. Growth was slow at first, but we’re in our 18th year now.
How do you decide on the menu?
It’s all very seasonal. This time of year, we’re baking a lot of pies—fruit pies, Key lime pies, and my mom’s famous lemon meringue pie. We like to experiment and play around with new flavors, but we always make sure whatever we create has an authentic, nostalgic Southern flair about it.
What are some of your favorite memories of the bakery over the years?
I think the most standout moment so far was when Griff and I actually got married in the bakery. It wasn’t even planned. We were supposed to do it the week before, but something came up. Then the judge came in that day joking about having his robes and vows in his car. Griff was working the lunch line making sandwiches, but my sister grabbed some flowers off one of the tables. We tied the knot right there in front of the customers.
When did you and Griff decide to start writing cookbooks?
I think I had been working on that first book in some way, shape, or form my whole life, but it really became a reality because of my husband. The 10-year anniversary for the bakery was coming up, and he had an idea for a book of some sort that we could just sell in the bakery. We were connected with a publisher who understood our vision, and they made us an offer. We never dreamed it would be as successful as it was. It resonated with so many people all across the world and even made the New York Times’ best seller list. Now I’m working on our third book of all-new recipes, and it will be coming out next year.