At just 13 years old, Sava Lelcaj began inching her way up the ranks, from bus girl at a Greek diner, where her uncles worked as short order cooks. Sava was born in Albania and that Albanian upbringing shapes the way she views opportunities, America, work ethic, gratitude, hospitality, and trust. Hospitality and trust go hand-in-hand for Sava, and when you are in one of her celebrated establishments, you will experience it firsthand. Savco Hospitality brands are inspirational and through building an unwavering trust with her community, Sava has been able to take each location on a journey of food exploration that has shaped the restaurant and hospitality landscape in Ann Arbor.
Sava established herself and Savco Hospitality as a force in the Ann Arbor food and entertainment scene by dedicating her energy to the industry and bringing a refined palate, unparalleled work ethic, and meticulous standard into every aspect of business. She has a vision and focus that is unequalled. With her scrupulous eye for detail, a transformative take on design, and fastidiousness for every aspect of the guest experience, she knows that if it isn’t realistic from a functional and business-minded perspective, it does not matter how pretty it is. Period.
Sava is tenacious and dedicated. She cares about her people, her guests, her community, and her businesses. While there’s no easy formula for developing inspiring brands and operating successful restaurants, certain individuals have a knack for just knowing how to make the process look easy. Sava is one such person.
In 2013, Sava was recognized by Crain’s Detroit as one of the ‘Best and Brightest in Southeast Michigan’ under the age of 40. In 2014, she was awarded a ‘Deal of the Year’ award for restoring a property that had proved difficult for others to capitalize on. All of her restaurants continue to win praise and awards, and maintain their status as staples within the community.
Savco Hospitality was built on the shoulders of grit, focus, and creativity. Since 2007, Savco has grown into a hospitality group encompassing Sava's, Aventura, babo Markets, and its newest venture, Tavolina Catering & Events, not to mention the 9,000 square foot culinary haven where they develop and create their proprietary food and beverage products.
At age 23, Sava opened her namesake restaurant, Sava’s, pioneering a new breed of eatery in Ann Arbor. The humble café grew from a small 23-seat diner to a 350-seat Ann Arbor mainstay that is constantly evolving and always thriving. Pairing imaginative food and wine with caring, kinetic hospitality, Sava’s offers comfortable surroundings and outstanding value.
The babo “grocerant” concept debuted in 2011 as a most delightful and unexpected hybrid of specialty food store and fast casual restaurant. After several years developing its concept, culture, and culinary identity, babo has grown to three Ann Arbor area locations.
2013 brought the inspiring Spanish tapas restaurant, Aventura, which showcases the perfect harmony of food, hospitality, culture, design, and architecture. Condé Nast took notice of this unparalleled dining experience and voted Aventura one of the ‘Best New Restaurants in the Midwest’ in 2014.
After several years of monumental growth, it became clear that in order to elegantly operate a growing number of businesses while maintaining Savco’s high quality standards, a management entity needed to be formed. Savco Hospitality has allowed Sava to steer the dynamic growth and development of the company while allowing her to maintaining a scrupulous eye on the details and building connections with her beloved guests, field, and community. With this base developing solidly and quickly, there is no doubt that future endeavors are not far from Sava’s mind.