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Sweet success: Four generations and 90 years of Goll’s bakery in Havre de Grace

One of the proudest moments of Susie Goll’s career occurred last year when an elderly couple walked into the 90-year-old Havre de Grace bakery that her family has operated for four generations.

When the couple married in 1970, Susie’s grandmother baked their wedding cake. Displaying a photo of the layered and iced concoction, the seniors said they would soon celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They wondered: Could Goll’s Bakery replicate the original cake?

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Susie Goll, right, watches her father Bob, 85, rolls dough to make pies in their family Bakery. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Goll's Bakery, the oldest family owned business in the town of Havre de Grace. The current owner Susie Goll represents the third generation of bakers using family recipe dating back another generation in Germany.
Susie Goll, right, watches her father Bob, 85, rolls dough to make pies in their family Bakery. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Goll's Bakery, the oldest family owned business in the town of Havre de Grace. The current owner Susie Goll represents the third generation of bakers using family recipe dating back another generation in Germany. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Susie Goll, now 54, walked back into her kitchen and found her grandmother’s original recipe. Not only could she re-create that exact cake, she concluded, she could bake it using some of the original equipment, including a scale that her grandparents bought in 1948 to weigh ingredients.

“I learned how to bake from my grandmother,” Susie Goll said, “and I can copy anything I can see a picture of.”

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The finished cake was crowned with the same topper that had adorned the couple’s wedding cake in 1970.

“Sometimes I feel like Peter Pan,” Susie Goll said. “The outside world changes around me. But in here, everything stays the same.”

Goll’s bakery was opened on Dec. 1, 1930, by Eugene and Elsa Goll, newlyweds who had emigrated to the U.S. from Germany. The couple ran the business until 1970, when their son, Bob, took over. “I used to ride in the truck when my father made deliveries,” Bob Goll, now 85, recalled.

He retired in 2020 and passed on his secrets to his daughter, Susie, who has been working in the store since she was 15.

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Sweets like (l-r) Sticky bun, Macaroon and Iced bun from Goll's Bakery. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Goll's Bakery, the oldest family owned business in the town of Havre de Grace. The current owner Susie Goll represents the third generation of bakers using family recipe dating back another generation in Germany.
Sweets like (l-r) Sticky bun, Macaroon and Iced bun from Goll's Bakery. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Goll's Bakery, the oldest family owned business in the town of Havre de Grace. The current owner Susie Goll represents the third generation of bakers using family recipe dating back another generation in Germany. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Now, the fourth generation — Bob’s grandson, Brody Goll, and Susie’s stepdaughter, Samantha Garland — are learning bread-making techniques and the fine points of customer service.

Goll’s prides itself on making its own dough from scratch, Bob Goll said. On a recent morning, he and his daughter stood behind a long table and rolled out more than three dozen mini-pies in the amount of time it would take most people to set the table for dinner. Each oval was perfectly even and no thicker than a dime. The room smelled of sugar and fermenting yeast.

The store’s offerings run the gamut from cinnamon cake to sticky buns to fruit Danish and chocolate croissants. There are cookies as big as salad plates.

Though each sweet treat has its devotees, Bob Goll said they can’t make enough apple and cherry tarts to keep up with demand. Customers also clamor for the start of éclair and cream puff season.

Susie Goll makes these treats only in the cold weather months because, she said, the delicate custard in the éclairs and whipped cream in the cream puffs don’t keep well in hot weather.

Longtime customer Dawn Marie Zeller wrote on the bakery’s Facebook page on March 5, 2020:

“I am 56 years old, and have been enjoying Goll’s food for 57 years. My mom use to stop at the bakery after her doctor’s appointments for a doughnut when she was pregnant with me. I came into this world craving Goll’s.”

Goll’s Bakery

234 N. Washington St., Havre de Grace, is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. For details, call 410-939-4321 or visit gollsbakery4321.com.

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