The success of B. Tillman, Byrd Cookie Co.'s re-branded foray into the restaurant business at its Waters Avenue cookie factory, has prompted the establishment of BTByrd's, an eatery and cookie shop opening this week at Drayton Tower.
The new store is cozy - only 600 square feet.
"But we do a lot in a little space," Byrd president Geoff Repella said.
"We'll be serving freshly prepared food, warm cookies and have applied for a liquor license.
"We're open from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.," he said. "In addition to our restaurant fare, people can join us for coffee or Bloody Marys in the morning or enjoy a nightcap in the evening."
BTByrd's is the second restaurant the company has opened, having debuted The Cookie Bar and Grill, which later became B. Tillman, in its Waters Avenue location last year.
"B. Tillman taught us a lot about doing great food," Repella said. "We wanted to take that success downtown, where the company first started."
An iconic Savannah name, Byrd Cookie Company was founded in 1924 when Ben Byrd baked his first cookies in the basement of a building at the corner of Habersham and St. Julian streets. A few years later, the family moved to Sandfly and relocated the bakery to their Norwood Avenue property.
In the 1950s, Byrd's first retail outlet - The Cookie Shanty - opened across the street from the Norwood location.
The company moved to its current location on Waters Avenue, which houses the bakery, a gift shop and now B. Tillman, in the mid-1990s.
The newest eatery, which had its soft opening this week, will host a grand opening Aug. 1, Repella said.
"It's a new concept that incorporates things we've done in the past that have been successful," he said.
Stephanie Lindley, CEO of the company her grandfather founded, said one special feature will be hot, just-out-of-the-oven oatmeal cookies.
"We've made them twice as large as our standard oatmeal cookies, and we will be baking them all day long," she said.
The cookies also will be available as a sandwich, with a variety of fillings.
Open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and until 10 p.m. on weekends, BTByrd's has imported some customer favorites from B. Tillman's, as well as items that will be unique to the Drayton Tower location.
Selections range from "better than a bite" scones and mini banana nut muffins with cream cheese frosting to "hearty, not heavy" andouille sausage in a blanket with sausage gravy and a braised pork sandwich with hot slaw and hard cider barbecue sauce.
In between are selections such as black & white truffle mac 'n' cheese and pork and collard green spring roles with mole sauce.
With a nod to their neighbors, BTByrd's will offer "room service" delivery to Drayton Tower residents.
"We very much want this to be a Savannah place, for Savannahians - the kind of place downtown residents want to drop in for coffee and a bagel in the morning and wine and a cheese tray after work," Lindley said.
With the addition of a cookie store in City Market last fall, the cookie shop attached to BTByrd's makes the third retail outlet for the locally baked cookies and other treats.
Meanwhile, back at the Waters Avenue location, the factory is working overtime, baking 18 hours a day, seven days a week and shipping across the country and all over the globe. And rumors that B. Tillman has eclipsed the cookie shop on Waters Avenue are not true, Repella said.
"While the restaurant has taken over more of the building's 'out-front' space as we've expanded to serve lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday, the cookie shop still has a prominent place," he said.
"Remember, this building used to be an old Lowe's," Repella said. "We have 50,000 square feet to play with.
"That's a lot of room to reconfigure as we need to."