Like many businesses affected by the pandemic, the long-awaited overhaul at Sava Farah’s namesake restaurant took longer than planned.

Farah originally hoped to begin remodeling after Michigan’s commencement in 2020. But Covid put off the renovations for another eighteen months. In December, she closed Sava’s with the intention of reopening in time for this year’s dual graduation weekends.

She missed that goal by a week: Sava’s held a soft-opening weekend May 12–14 and was scheduled to open for regular service May 18.

While the name remains the same, Farah says she thinks of the State St. space as “New Sava’s.” Many things about it are smaller than the sprawling restaurant that recently seated 300 and could serve as many as 1,300 on peak days. Now, Sava’s seats 250, inside and out. Staff has been sharply reduced, from 110 to sixty. And for now, the restaurant is serving dinner only, four nights a week. 

Farah plans to expand to daily service, and by fall she hopes to offer a lineup of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch—once she has enough staff.

In contrast to Sava’s sometimes bohemian décor, the restaurant now features a polished appearance that Farah calls “bling and blue”—a combination of polished brass with blue and earth-toned accents. There are new half-round booths and gleaming wall sconces.

The previous Sava’s was “a little bit of a hodgepodge,” Farah says. “Ann Arbor has changed a lot, and the perception of what is expected from me and my restaurant has changed a lot, too.” 

Farah and Louis Maldonado, her partner in the Pulpo Group, were still tinkering with the menu on the eve of the soft opening. Like the restaurant, it, too, has been streamlined. 

Farah knows long-time customers will miss some of the dishes that have been served for years, but “I wanted to clear the slate for him to do what he likes. He has the ability to produce incredible food,” Farah says.

As with her other restaurants, Aventura, the Boro, and Dixboro House, Farah wants Sava’s to be a destination for travelers as well as locals. “People are coming from out of state to eat at Dixboro House. I want them to come from out of state to eat at Sava’s,” she says.

Sava’s, 216 S. State, (734) 623–2233. Wed.–Sat. 5–9 p.m. Closed Sun.–Tues.