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Neighborhood Series: Savoy

“Relationships are the cornerstone of trust and what makes a great community is the bond of trust from neighbor to neighbor.” –Jordan Killebrew, Communications Officer at the Santa Barbara Foundation

Previously in the Neighborhood Series, we talked to the Community Environmental Council (CEC) and discovered that its staff has built friendships and partnerships with many nearby restaurants and stores. One of CEC’s favorite places to partner with and frequent for lunch is Savoy Café & Deli. So, we decided to ask Paul Shields, the owner of Savoy, what neighborhood means to him and his family business.

“A neighborhood is almost like a family,” said Paul. “You get to know each other, help each other out, share joy and pain. It is really its own kind of family.”

Paul and his wife, Kathy, opened Savoy in 2005 after dreaming of owning their own restaurant for years. Paul had been working as a chef in the hotel industry, but when their son was born, he started work at Lazy Acres Market so that he could have more regular hours. Inspired by Lazy Acres’ dedication to providing clean, organic and natural foods to its customers, Paul thought it would be great if he could start something similar downtown. The Shields bought out Azuma, which was a sushi restaurant on Figueroa, and opened Savoy with the intent of making a restaurant with organic, natural food that could be all things to everyone.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere where people felt like they were being welcomed into our home,” said Paul. “We wanted it to be clean and quick with a variety of different food options so that, no matter the reason you were coming in, you got exactly what you wanted. The Savoy neighborhood is really like a meeting place for the community.”

Savoy is so loved by the community that, in 2008, when the Shields went bankrupt and lost everything, including the restaurant, the company that bought it offered to sell it back to Paul in 2010.

“We had an outpour of community support when we came back in 2010 that we just took off,” said Paul. “One of my favorite examples of this is, one time, when we lost power for three days and essentially lost a ton of product, one of our regulars named Anna, who comes three or four times a week for tea and fruit, wrote us a check for $80. We had thousands of dollars of damage, so $80 was not going to offset anything and when I told her that I could not accept her money, she got so mad, it was so touching. It was amazing to see that other people care about this place just as much as I do.”

In addition to building relationships with patrons like Anna, Paul and Kathy have watched families grow up here – from witnessing their first date to meeting their children. Due to its central location to downtown, everyone from lawyers and bankers to nonprofit professionals and tech industry gurus know Savoy as a neighborhood lunch staple. Furthermore, Savoy goes above and beyond to support other local organizations by providing gift cards and donations to nonprofits.

“On top of trying to keep prices as low as possible so that natural, organic food is accessible to everyone, we plan to continue to support nonprofit organizations, like schools, the Fund for Santa Barbara, the Community Environmental Council, SlingShot and many others,” said Paul. “I also try to support the neighborhood in my own way. My bank is across the street, I get my haircut at Willie’s Barber Shop down the street, we work closely with Handlebar Coffee Roasters, and I sometimes go to Gino’s for a slice of pizza – being downtown you can’t go outside without seeing ten people you know, and they are all great local people, which is what being in a neighborhood is all about.”

Stay tuned for the next Neighborhood Series article as we continue the conversation with SlingShot, which is a nonprofit that Savoy has supported.

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North County Headquarters:2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
South County Headquarters:1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101