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Cookin? with butter
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Savannah Rum Runners, a popular local bakery located on Habersham Street, draws loyal customers with its from-scratch ingredients and attention to personal details for each customer.

Owner Mary Anne Gojdics and her silent partner -- whom she identifies only as “Cousin Bob” --purchased the business Feb. 2, 1998 from then-owner and founder Ann Rogers. Since then, the business has outgrown two locations on Habersham, one just up the row in Habersham Plaza.

The reason for Savannah Rum Runners’ continued growth? An easy question to answer, says Gojdics.

“We’re a specialty bakery,” she says. “My concept for Rum Runners is a niche market. We’re not competing with the food chains in price. I won’t ever be. I use butter, not Crisco and I use high grade cocoa, not just chocolate. It makes a difference.”

The location in Habersham Plaza contributes to the success of the store with the anchorage of a drug store and grocery store nearby to draw in foot traffic. In addition, loyal customers spread the word about the items they purchase and the great personal service provided by Gojdics and her staff.

“Rum Runners is the best, just the best,” says one man standing at the counter while Gojdics is being interviewed. Another woman answers him, “Oh, I know.”

Gojdics says the bakery tries to provide both what customers want and then try to answer special needs, such as dietary restrictions. Savannah Rum Runners is AA Kosher, certified by Rabbi Gold.

The staff also tries to devise recipes for Atkins and South Beach dieters so they have options for dessert in their diets -- such as flourless chocolate torte, cheesecake and macaroons.

Of course, the store still does a booming business in its traditional rum cakes, the item that gave the bakery its name when it was located on Wilmington Island. After Rogers sold the bakery, Gojdics discovered the island had little foot traffic and while business was great around Christmas (“The rum cakes mail very well,” she says), the rest of the year was more difficult. Thence came the move to Habersham and a doubling of the business‚ space, staff and sales.

“It was a tremendous business,” she says. “And the rum cake really is a wonderful cake.”

Gojdics says the move from one storefront to another in the plaza has yet again increased sales and foot traffic. The location she moved into in March formerly served as two different book stores and both did well. Gojdics says she believes the space is “good karma.”

With the move comes an expansion in the bakery’s offerings, including more cookies and sinful treats, a Carolina truffle and a specialty low-sugar chocolate torte. Gojdics and the staff even do eggless or milkless cakes for those with dietary restrictions or allergies, although milkless icing proves more of a challenge.

“But, once we know, we look for a solution,” she says.

As for why she operates a bakery, Gojdics says it’s because of the people who come in and out of the shop, whether they are regulars or newcomers.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had. If a customer comes in unhappy and they leave with something sweet, they‚re happy, and if they’re happy, they leave happier. It’s very satisfying to make people happy. We have the best customers in Savannah.”

She adds, “Even kids! Kids can come in and get a 25-cent cookie and be happy, and the moms can be happy because their child is just getting one cookie.”

As for favorite foods in the shop, Gojdics admits she’s a ‘chocoholic,” but if she had to pick one dessert, it’s the canasta cake.

“It’s chocolate cake with butter cream icing and over it is ganache,” she says. “It can be addictive because it’s so good.”

Savannah Rum Runners is open daily at 8 a.m., excepting Sundays. For more information or to place an order, call 355-4177.