Mamadou Savané, a native of Guinea in West Africa, immigrated to the United States in 1993. Having spent the majority of his time in the US here in Lexington, Mamadou, or Sav as many of his friends and customers know him, quickly began his new life by working two jobs and starting a family. However, his dream of opening his own restaurant was nothing more than just that: a dream. Sav says that he has always had a strong passion for cooking and had been contemplating a restaurant for 10 years, but did not think that was enough to turn his dream into a reality. After seven years of working for Hyatt Regency, 15 years of working for UPS, and having three children, Sav was able to live out the true American dream when he opened Sav’s Grill in 2008. Unsure of how successful his new business would be, Sav continued to work at UPS, too. Then, in 2012, he opened Sav’s Chill. “It depends on how motivated you are and how willing you are to sacrifice yourself,” he says. Today, Sav’s Grill as well as Sav’s Chill, are booming with business and very famous Lexington spots.
Sav’s road to success has not been an easy one. In June 2014, Sav was badly burned in a kitchen accident. The accident put him out of work for a while, but as he talks about this incident, he does not focus on the loss. Instead, he highlights the good of the community. He says the response and support he received after his accident was more than he could have ever imagined. With lines curving out of the door and down the sidewalk, many well wishes from around the world, and $50,000 raised in just three days, Sav was amazed at the giving and communal spirit in Lexington. Twenty-five years after leaving his native home of Guinea in West Africa, Sav now calls Lexington home. “Lexington is a special place for me,” he says. He says that he will be forever grateful for and indebted to the people of Lexington for their support.
Speaking about food, Sav believes it is such an important way to expose people, especially immigrants and refugees, to new cultures. Food is “a wonderful way to expose your culture to your new life,” he adds. Everyone has a basic food connection, he says, but different places use unique ingredients that make food specific to different cultures and regions of the world. As the first business to introduce Lexington to West African cuisine, Sav’s Grill is a way to expose yourself to a part of a new culture. Whether a customer is a refugee, immigrant, or native Kentuckian, Sav wants everyone to feel welcome.
Sav’s Grill will be featured in a booth at KRM Lexington’s upcoming fundraiser, Passport to Flavor. See details below.
passport to flavor
We invite you to join us for KRM Lexington’s annual fundraiser, Passport to Flavor, on Friday June 23 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Distillery Square. The event will allow you to experience the feel of an international night market featuring international sounds, sights, and tastes. We will have booths featuring food from Bosnia, the Congo, Cuba, Syria, and international desserts. Other activities include live music, a silent auction, art display, craft and KRM T-shirt sales, photo booth, and henna. Reserve your tickets today!