The Heights’ restaurant boom shows no signs of slowing down. Despite the number of options in the area, restaurateurs continue to see opportunity in the neighborhood.
Meet Savoir, a new restaurant that’s slated to open in November. Owner Brian Doke brings a variety of experiences to his role as restaurateur. Although he’s only 30, Doke spent eight years as the director of operations for Tiny Boxwood’s. Since leaving that position, he’s spent time as a consultant for both Relish Restaurant & Bar and Chapman & Kirby.
All along, he was looking for the right property for a new restaurant. He found it in a warehouse at the corner of Yale and 14th Street that dates back to the ’30s.
“We love the character of it,” Doke tells CultureMap. “We’re preserving as much of that as possible. We’re just adding a new influence that comes with a refined [design]. We put a treatment on the brick to give it some color. You’ve got these windows that are custom built that we’ll give a little patina look to preserve the character of the building.”
Given the space’s size, Doke has divided up Savoir into three distinct spaces. Diners will enter through the bar area, which will feature a large, U-shaped bar as well as a few banquettes. The dining area will be separated by three brick columns and glass partitions to prevent the noise of the bar from leaking into the dining room.
From there, diners will be able to choose from the slightly more formal, 70-seat, main dining room or what Doke is calling the Garden Room, which will feature an 18-foot long, accordion-style glass and metal wall that can be fully opened during nice weather. Able to accommodate approximately 35 people, the garden room will give Savoir a flexible space that’s also suitable for private dining.
“It’s refined and elegant, but it’s not stuffy,” Doke says about the design. “It’s approachable. Overall, an elegant look is what we’re going for.”
Just as the space will have an elegant look, Doke intends to serve refined food. Although he isn’t ready to reveal the chef that’s attached to the project (he or she is still working at another restaurant), he describes Savoir’s cuisine as “chef-driven, seasonally focused, modern American with that European focus, which is a way to say we can do whatever we want seasonally.
“We’re going to toe that line on a finer scale with great quality and really rich techniques with an approachable aspect. I love balancing the two. You come in, you’re intrigued by something you’ve never tasted or have seen before but done a new way. At the same time, you can come in for that housemade pasta, that glass of red wine.”
From a culinary perspective, the goal is to offer diners enough familiar flavors that they can come in once a week but also enough innovation that they feel like Savoir works for a date night or special occasion.
The restaurant’s wine list will help it earn that special occasion status. Doke is working with William Meznarich, formerly of wine distributor Victory Wine Group, on the restaurant’s list. Expect an extensive selection of by-the-glass and bottle options at a range of price points.
Meznarich is also Doke’s business partner in La Grande Rue, a new wine shop and wine bar that will occupy another part of the building. Although related, Savoir and La Grande Rue are separate businesses with separate liquor licenses, which will allow the restaurant to serve a full range of wine, beer, and spirits while allowing the wine shop to sell bottles to-go.
“William and I have known each other for a long time, going back to when I was the wine buyer for Tiny’s. We drank a lot of the same stuff and just hit it off,” Doke says. “That guy knows wine about as well as anybody in the city. He’s a great friend of mine. Super excited about working with him.”
As for the name (read as “Sah-voir”), Doke cites the word’s definition of “to know something.” He wants his customers to know the restaurant through the experience of dining there.
“For me, in dining and hospitality, experience is everything, whether it’s the lighting, the right music, the quality of the food, the service, the wine program, it’s got to have the right feel, the right pieces, the right quality to put together a complete experience. That’s what our team is about,” Doke says.
Taken together, Doke and his team are aiming for something a little more refined than the typical Heights restaurant. Given the wealth of options in the area, diners may be looking for just that sort of place.