Restaurang SAV: Going All In One ‘Svend & Alex’ At Vindåkra

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Restaurang SAV: Going all in one 'Svend & Alex' på Vindåkra

We have spoken to several restaurants from our beloved community to get to know more about what they like the most about GXM. Here are some of the main points they highlighted.

In January 2017, Sven Jensen and Alexander Fohlin took over a farm 10 minutes outside of Malmö (Vindåkra Gård) that previously housed a Michelin star restaurant. Two guys that have known each other in the business for a long time but now taking the leap and going all-in on their own, personal restaurant concept. Since then, things have happened at a great pace; Today the guys are the proud receivers of a Michelin star of their own and their restaurant SAV is on the White Guide’s top 20 in Sweden.

We’ve met with Sven & Alex for a chat about their friendship, the idea behind SAV, the guest experience and what it means to get a Michelin star that early in a restaurant’s lifetime.

You met Alex 10 years ago?

“Yes, exactly. Alex and I met 10 years ago. Back then, I worked in Denmark, while he was working in Sweden. His boss at the time called me up and offered me a job in Malmö, and at that time I was pretty tired of commuting back and forth with a 2,5 hours drive to work every day, so I quickly said yes, sold the car, bought a bike and started working in Malmö, where Alex was Sous Chef at a small restaurant. The restaurant is called Mrs. Brown and still exists today. It was a rustic inn that served good, rustic, flavorsome food. What appealed to me back then was the notion of being out in nature, picking your own herbs, bringing home whole animals. It was the same passion that I had. When I started working there, I met Alex straight away. We clicked immediately.

In the span of a few days, he pretty much became my new best friend. We had the same flavor profile and the same opinion of what we thought was good food. So we were very similar.

I had never experienced that with any other chef that we matched each other so well. Some match! And this is where the whole adventure actually started when we got to know each other at Mrs. Brown. Shortly after, our dream of opening our own restaurant started. We discussed that all the time. We actually stopped working at Mrs. Brown at the same time because we wanted to open something new together. Back then, we wanted to do something different. We wanted to open a ‘Supper Club’ and we actually got so far that we had the space and we were ready to sign the deal, but we didn’t get the clearance from the local authority because they were very much against our concept. They fought us so hard that we had to give up on the idea. Therefore we went our separate ways. I went back to Denmark and Alex began working for Anders Vendel (Vendels Matrum etc.). We actually ended up getting the approval for the restaurant months later, after we had given up on the idea and it was too late.”

Sven Jensen chef SAV Malmö restaurant Michelin star“A few years later, Alex called me and said he had some work where he needed me. We started working together again in Lund at Bartoget 9 and here we tested our approach to cooking. It went really well and people were happy, so it was at that moment that we realized that it really was our dream to open our own restaurant. Bartoget 9, unfortunately, closed a year after we left. Shortly after, we found out that we were both going to be dads with our respective partners – and with only two days in between the due dates – so we went on paternity leave at the same time.”

“It was during this paternity leave that the dream became reality and we found this farm out here. Karim Khouani from Sture in Malmö reached out to us since he knew that we were looking for a place – this kind of news spreads fast in Malmö. He also knew what we were looking for and it was the perfect fit. We also had the opportunity to rent only half of the place, which was why we said yes.

Because our dream was to have a tiny restaurant with a focus on few tables and guests instead of the quantity.

So we both ended up quitting while on paternity leave and shortly thereafter we signed the deal. November 1st we had the key, and my daughter was born on July 2nd, so that was very shortly after. Since then, we’ve had the peddle to the floor. So that’s the whole story of how we got to know each other. Even though our collaboration has been on hold during the journey, we’ve always stayed in touch and had this goal of opening a restaurant together someday, when we found the right fit.”

What was your background before you met Alex?

“I have a very mixed background. I’ve studied at university – I have a Bachelor’s degree. I’m a trained chef. I’ve worked in Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. I was, contrary to other chefs, not educated as 16-17 years old. I took the chef’s education simultaneously as studying at university. So I was doing both at the same time. The uni-education went pretty well, but the chef’s education went so well. That was the primary focus for me, but I wanted to have something to fall back on.”


I’ve always dreamed of opening something myself and I felt like it was good to have some economy knowledge to support that dream.

SAV restaurant Malmö sweden farm Michelin star

Why did you choose to open up at Vindåkra Gård and not in central Malmö?

“We’ve always wanted to find a place outside of the city and we’ve always known that there’s a risk tied to being located far away from everything – can you attract enough guests? It creates a demand for media attention and we probably wouldn’t have dared to choose a place that didn’t already have that attention (since it had housed a former Michelin restaurant before). People already knew that something was out here; a 1- star Michelin restaurant. We also knew that there were high expectations connected to taking over a 1-star restaurant.

What spoke to us in being located in the countryside, was the fact that we wouldn’t have any walk-ins. So when the service is going, the focus would be on the guests who are in the restaurant, we wouldn’t have anyone dropping in.

Therefore we don’t have to cook for guests that we don’t know will show up. You know exactly how many guests will come. This is also why we need to know if our guests will have the big or the small menu. This is both seen from an economic- and environmental perspective. We don’t want to throw out food.”

You are very invested in using local produce, is that easier when you’re closer out here on the farm?

“We have a lot that grows out here, both in the wild but also things we’ve planted ourselves that we have on our menu. We’re surrounded by sugar beets, which has become our signature dish, but besides that, we have our herbs and salads, green tomatoes and beans that we use during the summer. So a lot of it is über-local since it’s actually on the farm. But besides that, we try to get produce from the local area as much as possible. But we’re not a season oriented restaurant that many people think. We serve the food when we want to ourselves. The sugar beets are for example uprooted five months ago and we replant them again, so we can prolong the season like that. We have unripe blackberries on the menu and it’s not really blackberry season but we like to pickle and conserve things. We like using things when we feel like it. It can be more interesting to use these things in the winter and then when the spring comes and all the new shoots appear, we focus on using these since they’re best when they just appear.”

Can you explain the concept of SAV? How did you come up with the name?

“It’s been many, many long days and nights, both at my place and at Alex’s, and uncountable coffeeshop visits during the journey. We’ve fine-tuned our concept for so long before we actually found the farm. Large parts of the concept were already on the drawing board several years back. We, therefore, knew what type of food we wanted to serve and the decor of the restaurant. We already knew how we wanted to do things before we actually started.

Concerning the name, we have to credit Alex’s mom, because we couldn’t figure that out ourselves. We have many bad alternatives and we asked so many people to help us, but it’s hard to find a forced name.

We had to have a name. Without a name, we couldn’t get started with anything. But the name: SAV – “Sven and Alex at Vindåkra”. It made sense. And SAV is also the juice you use from the birch tree, which is something we use quite a lot in our cooking. Both in terms of drinks and homemade wine with birch tree juice, so it made perfect sense when our restaurant is highly influenced by this ‘bjørksav’ (birch tree juice) as it’s called in Swedish. The name was perfect. So when we heard the name, it took us 10 minutes before we had bought all of the domains.”

Did you know right away that you wanted to create a high-end restaurant?

“We knew. We had gotten that far. We’ve always focused on the great flavors. All the way back to our time at Mrs. Brown. When we started at Mrs. Brown, it was a very rustic cuisine with a focus on the good flavors and when we came to Bartoget 9, it developed further with a more high-end and refined cuisine. Instead of serving 1-2 dishes, it became a total experience where you had between 4-6 dishes and it became a dinner, where you built up highlights. When we opened SAV it got even more intense and now we serve 6 dishes but have just as many snacks as we have dishes, so in total, it’s actually 14 servings you get at our place in the big menu.”

SAV restaurant Sweden Malmö Michelin starWhat does Guest Experience mean to you?

“When you think about the category of fine-dining, it’s often associated with waiters in suits and multiple dishes. It can get a little rigid sometimes. That’s exactly why the guest experience is so incredibly vital to us. We want to give another type of guest experience with just as good food, if not better. It has to be as good as possible but combined with our personality. To us, our – and the restaurant’s personality is just as important – it’s actually so important, when you eat at SAV because our food is a little atypical and we, therefore, interact more during the dinner. Alex and I both talk a lot with our guests during the night, since we do the serving and the presenting of all the food ourselves. Our sommelier focuses on drinks that they talk about.

Guest Experience, from our point of view, is very much about the interaction with the guest. To get a nice dialogue going and make them feel the familiarity and that it’s not as rigid at our place as at other fine-dining restaurants.

Good food, nice ambiance, where people get great taste experiences – a total experience that has to be mind-blowing alongside a familiar, homey feel – that’s what we’re trying to give our guests.”

You focus a lot on the different relations with your guests through storytelling etc?

“It’s so important to us to create the exact right guest experience. One thing is eating a berry, but when you get the story behind the berry at the same time and how we came up with the idea and the flavors, that changes the entire experience while the guest is eating the berry. The berry gets a different function that triggers something in the brain that makes the guest think about what they’re eating. I think that’s so awesome. That’s why our storytelling is so important. Of course, we have guests who are not that interested in long conversations and it’s not like we just talk and talk. Our guests have time and peace to eat their dinner. But we present all of the food and often tell an anecdote about why we’ve done what we’ve done. But we always feel out the guest to see if they want to talk or not. Same goes for our sommelier. There’s a big difference between if our guests are here doing business or if they’re just out having a good time with friends or family. That’s two different experiences. Both amazing, but always on the guest’s premise.”

2018 has been a great year so far. What have you achieved?

“Three months after we opened in January 2017, we were placed number 30 on the White Guide List in Sweden. That made the guest-flow better and we were really happy about that. Nothing more really happened in 2017. Everything really happens at the beginning of the year and we opened in January, so we just managed to get in the White Guide. Here at the beginning of 2018, we received the award for Best Restaurant in Malmö. In February we got the Michelin star. A few days ago we received the award of Terroir of the Year at White Guide 2018. It’s a distinction you get as a restaurant for your knowledge, dedication to produce and earth connection. Our focus on the local produce, everything that we pickle, ferment and smoke. It’s your entire approach to produce you get rewarded for.”

We think we’ve done pretty well considering we’ve only been open for almost a year and a half.

 

“We were looking for the best way to handle reservations and guest profile data and SUPERB really impressed us with its system. Also SUPERB brought our no-show rate impressively down.” – Thomas Sühring, Sühring.

The Design

Great design (obviously) matters. Especially for our community. 90% of our community highlights the design as one of their main drivers for working with SUPERB. Sticking to our Scandinavian roots, we have crafted the most beautiful reservation experience on the market, leaving your guests with the absolute best first impression of your restaurant.

“We love SUPERB because of it’s clean and smart appearance. The system is an easy and professional way for our guests to book online and it suits Silo’s style.” – Douglas McMaster, Silo & Mr Lyan.

Curios to know how we can help your restaurant? Click here to schedule a meeting

Simplicity & User-friendly

Our partner restaurants all highlighted the importance of working with a simple and user-friendly system easy to handle for both the guest and staff.

“We have chosen to work with SUPERB for several reasons. First and foremost, it is user-friendly for both the guest and the staff handling the system. In addition, SUPERB is graphically and visually more inviting and personal than other solutions. It’s a huge advantage for us that our guests, already before entering our restaurant, gets a positive impression of our restaurant.” – Henrik Junker, Restaurant Paustian.

No More No-Shows

No-shows are known as the “killer” in the restaurants. The majority of our community highlights the no-show feature as one of the features with the biggest impact. The no-show feature provides restaurants with more security, enabling restaurants to ask guests to leave their credit-card details in order to confirm a reservation. The no-show feature has helped leading restaurants in reducing their no-show rate from an average of 16% to 0,8%.

“For us SUPERB have made a big difference, before SUPERB we had some issues with guests not showing up. Now we don’t have any kind of no-shows. If we didn’t have SUPERB, I don’t think we would still be open.” – Rasmus Munk, Alchemist.

Applications

Create and customize a unique guest experience, host special events, sell tickets, automated gift cards, and much more. Our community loves our variety of built-in applications. Made to make the staff work smarter and more efficient with endless possibilities – make the life easier for any restaurant.

“We wanted a bespoke system that could work to the high standards we have set in the restaurant. We are a unique restaurant and needed a system that worked for us.” – Steven Edwards, Etch.

The support

 

 

 

 

 

The majority of our community highlights support as one of the vital reasons for working with SUPERB. Our support is mainly rewarded for being both interactive and helpful combined with a quick response time.

“You will see something that is in constant development. You have constant feedback. If you try to call someone you get it fixed straight away. There is no waiting time. Waiting time is almost non-existing when you work with SUPERB” – Thomas Korby, Mielcke & Hurtigkarl

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