LEXINGTON, Ky. — After 14 years of serving West African cuisine in Lexington, Sav’s Restaurant is closing its doors because of issues related to the pandemic.

The restaurant serves favorites like Fufu, lamb ragu and Cornish hens. But due to pandemic challenges like employee shortages and inflation, they will close their doors this Saturday.

What You Need To Know

  • Mamadou “Sav” Savane is the owner of Sav’s Restaurant & Gourmet Ice Cream in Lexington

  • Savane employs a hand full of employees, including Irene Muala 

  • Savane has struggled to keep employees, faced supply chain shortages and meat inflation

  • The last day Sav’s Restaurant will be open is August 27

Mamadou “Sav” Savane certainly did not expect to close his West African cuisine restaurant 14 years after opening it. Savane came to Kentucky from Guinea, West Africa, with a dream to make a life he was proud of.

When he came to the Commonwealth and opened his restaurant, he was working two jobs. He says it was all to keep his family afloat while he hit the ground running. Now, he’ll face the most difficult farewell a business owner could face in just six days—closing his restaurant.

“It’s uh [closing the restaurant]… really hard for me,” said Savane. 

For the customers—they’re feeling it too. Many will stop in to eat their favorites over the course of the next week.

Savane said he’s proud of the restaurant he’s built and the culture he’s brought to Lexington. He’s going to show you where the magic happens for his West African cuisine every time people visit.

For the last four years, Irene Muala has been cutting and cooking plantains for Sav’s Restaurant, plus much more. Plantains alone have cost $20 more per pallet this year.

Muala is one of Sav’s Restaurant’s hardest workers. Together they’ve faced empty dining tables, lack of employees and the supply chain shortage affecting paper products and meats.

“I need to find another job, it’s not easy to find another job,” said Muala.

The single mother of three and Democratic Republic of Congo refugee has six days to make something happen, but she’s most nervous about the language barrier. After four years of working for Sav’s Restaurant, she knows Savane will always have her back.

“You have to be willing to let something go… I will be here in this community and anything I can do to help people out… that’s my goal,” said Savane.

Savane said he did everything he could, including reducing his days and hours of operation to just five days a week during dinner. But it still wasn’t enough to conquer COVID-19’s pandemic challenges. 

The good news is Savane will continue to offer his ice cream and hot sauces as wholesale in different Lexington markets and restaurants. As for his restaurant space, it will be rented to another business after Aug. 27. He’ll continue to serve as the property owner to keep the location if he ever wants to open a restaurant again.

Savane will plan to host a final farewell event at the restaurant on his Instagram page