The co-owner of Savoy Society and Colleagues & Lovers is anything but plain
Written by CATIE McCOY
Photography by MICHAEL SCHALK
FERNET IS AN ITALIAN SPIRIT known for its bittersweet flavor — made from 27 herbs and spices — and its cult-like following among seasoned bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. And though the concoction has been enjoyed around the globe for centuries, the dark complexity requires a discerning palate to appreciate it.
Jane Fishel is one such fan. She goes by the Queen of Fernet on Instagram, and is nearly as ubiquitous in Savannah’s cocktail scene as a bottle of Fernet-Branca.
After years of bartending at some of Savannah’s favorite watering holes, Fishel planted her flag as the co-owner of Savoy Society and Colleagues & Lovers (C&L), alongside her partner Matt Garappolo.
Despite her cosmic success, she admits that running two restaurants in the city — let alone some of the most vivacious, trendsetting spots in town — was not originally in the cards.
“I actually had always assumed I’d be in New York forever,” she says. After living briefly in Savannah in her teens, Fishel bounced from coast to coast, managing bars and pursuing a degree and career in audio engineering, before returning south.
Now, the audiophile channels her acquired tastes into some of the locals’ favorite hotspots for happy hours and late nights. Here, she shares a look into her anything-but-plain day.
First Things First
Fishel is pure proof that success and motivation do not always manifest through early mornings, contrary to conventional belief. She’ll be the first to admit she is no early riser.
Still, the beginning of her day is far from idle. She is adamant about implementing movement into the start of her morning, and is typically sweating it out in spin class or enjoying group pilates at The Hub — just not before 10 a.m.
When it comes to work, Fishel’s day-to-day life varies immensely. With her bartending days behind her, her schedule consists of lots of back and forth, checking in and seeing what everyone needs.
“I’ve been blessed with the best staff, and it’s very important for us that we communicate,” she says. “They are as much a part of either business as we are.”
This prompts many trips to the store, order placements and other miscellaneous tasks.
“I promise it’s not all that glamorous of a thing,” Fishel says with a laugh. “I quite literally scrub the toilet and deep clean the bar at Savoy twice a week — not because I don’t have a fantastic team to help with these things, but because I am very, very particular.”
From the groovy wallpaper, vintage furniture and the solely vinyl soundtrack, it’s safe to say that the eclectically tailored atmosphere at both of Fishel’s bars are a driving force behind their success. Even smaller details such as cocktail names, menu design and the old movies screening on Savoy’s retro television prove to be just as deliberately delightful.
To fuel her creative inspiration, Fishel enjoys shopping at vintage stores and visiting local galleries when she is off the clock. “It’s very peaceful for me,” she says.
“I love Sulfur Studios. Emily [Earl] and Jon [Witzky] have done such an amazing job with the space, the exhibitions and their IMPACT magazine. I am also frequently checking out the Jepson Center and the SCAD Museum of Art.”
While the menus at Savoy and C&L are replete with an abundance of snacks, rotating specials and sweets, Fishel reveals that there is rarely more than “yogurt, assorted berries, champagne and vermouth” in her fridge at home.
If she isn’t at one of her own bars, she tries to dine at other restaurants and bars in the city to see what’s trending or revisit one of her go-to picks: Cotton & Rye, E-TANG or perhaps her all-time favorite, Crystal Beer Parlor.
Along with the menu, live music often serves as the deciding factor when it comes to determining the evening’s circuit.
“One of the biggest things — besides the food and cocktail scene — that has gradually become much better in Savannah is the music,” Fishel says. “There is so much music in this town now that had never existed before and, if anything, only in small pockets. Of course, all the festivals we have here are great — I love Savannah Stopover and Dog Days — but otherwise I am a huge fan of all the live music they book at Over Yonder.”
On the occasion of enjoying a cocktail with a little less bass, Fishel appreciates paying a quick visit to Savoy’s neighbors at The Wayward, or sipping on a glass of wine at Le Chai. As the evening dies down, she prefers to pop into one particular neighborhood watering hole, sipping on a gin sonic (gin, soda and tonic).
“I am almost always grabbing a drink at Lone Wolf Lounge. I love a dive bar, but Lone Wolf especially ticks all the boxes for me. Aside from it being just blocks away from my home, they have an impressive wine list, cocktails with top-notch tequila, or you can grab a Hamm’s beer for $2,” says Fishel. “Nine times out of 10, I’ll make the decision on my way home to end my night there.”
They also serve plenty of Fernet.