There’s a new measure for telling how long a person has lived on or visited Hilton Head Island: Ask them if they know what a chocolate chewie is.
And if they do, make sure you share this news with them: Gottlieb’s Bakery, home of this iconic cookie, is once more.
The historic Savannah bakery, which first opened in 1884 (for real) and had a location in Coligny Plaza on Hilton Head from 1977 through the mid-1980s, reopened earlier this year after being closed for more than 20 years.
This means that the nostalgic treat is just a short drive away (and something tells me there will be more than just a few islanders making a stop there).
After Gottlieb’s closed on Hilton Head, a new bakery opened in its spot, then another, and then, in 1992, a former Gottlieb’s employee opened The Coligny Bakery there.
Amie Baima, a longtime island resident and owner of the popular Skillets Cafe in Coligny, started working at Gottlieb’s when she was just 14 years old.
“Can you believe that?” she said. “Fourteen. It was my first job. ... It was a great bakery.”
When she opened her own shop in its spot (The French Kiss Bakery is there now), “Gottlieb’s” was still etched into the glass door.
And Baima kept it that way.
Which might have contributed to some false hope for tourists.
Years after Gottlieb’s closed — years after one, two, three other bakeries opened in its place — and customers were still looking for the goods.
“People would come in and say, ‘Are there chocolate chewies here?,’ ” said Baima, who was happy to hear that Gottlieb’s had reopened on Eisenhower Drive in Savannah. “There sure aren’t.”
But, you know what? It’s not that outlandish to think that maybe one day in the future the answer to that long-ago asked question will be different.
On Tuesday, I spoke with Michael Gottlieb. He and his brother, Laurence, are great-grandsons of the original owners and behind the bakery’s resurrection.
Michael remembers the Hilton Head location well.
In fact, he’s very fond of the island.
As in Gottlieb’s might return to Hilton Head in the future?
“My brother and I talk about it all the time,” he said.
Help a chef
Gottlieb’s Bakery, at 1100 Eisenhower Drive in Savannah, will donate a percentage of chocolate chewie sales in August to The Heirloom Foundation, an organization that provides mental health and other services to chefs. For more information about Gottlieb’s, call 912-777-5133.