The owner of a popular Lexington restaurant announced late Monday night that he is closing, but that’s not the end of his story.
Mamadou Savane, owner of Sav’s Grill, posted on Facebook, “Sav says THANK YOU LEXINGTON! Sav’s Grill is closed after almost 11 years. Something new is coming. Stay tuned!”
Known universally as “Sav,” Savane said he plans to open a revamped Sav’s in September on East Main Street and Old Lafayette Avenue, in a former Subway sandwich shop next to the A&W Restaurant.
Sav’s Chill, the family’s ice cream shop, will remain at South Limestone and East Maxwell.
“I didn’t want to make a big deal about the closing,” Sav said. He told customers who came for lunch on Monday about his plans. “Before the end, I was overwhelmed. I was really emotional. ... It’s almost 11 years this September. I’m really happy that’s done now.”
When the building on East Main Street became available, Sav decided to buy it and move the restaurant and the ice cream-making operation in. He will sell ice cream in the new spot too, as well as beer for the grownups.
He plans to augment his menu of African favorites and offer table service.
“I want the place to be a friendly neighborhood place where people can come and enjoy, the kids can have ice cream, you can get dinner or just have a beer and a chat with your neighbors,” he said. “This is my neighborhood.”
The new Sav’s also will have outdoor seating, off-street parking and eye-catching murals along the street. he said.
A native of Guinea in West Africa, Sav said plans a trip home next month to look for new recipes.
He opened his original restaurant on South Limestone, next to the UK Samaritan Hospital, to serve his native West African cuisine to Kentuckians and quickly found a following for fufu, cassava and even goat.
But his peanut sauce caused his biggest setback: In June 2014, while he was stirring a giant pot of the sauce, he spilled boiling liquid all over his body, causing second-degree burns and putting him in intensive care for five days while his wife, Rachel, and three children watched anxiously.
Friends and fans rallied around, raising more than $50,000 to offset medical and other expenses. And he reopened the restaurant soon after.
Now, those friends and fans are anxiously watching social media to see what will happen to the restaurant they’ve come to love.
“Sav! Please tell me I’ll still be able to get my fufu fix!” said Sarah Coleman Hunt on the restaurant’s Facebook page.