When Kevin Mapleton and his wife Ashley moved to Savannah, they were looking to really plug into their new community. So, they created a Facebook page to connect anyone and everyone who loves the Hostess City.
They also opened a small business serving steamed bagel sandwiches at pop-up events in the Starland District.
You’re one of the founders of the “Savannah Connection” Facebook group. What is that?
The Savannah Connection was an idea that my wife and I started several months before we moved to Savannah, in March of 2019. The idea behind it was that we were moving to a new town that we had only visited once.
We knew no people. We didn’t know where to get our hair cut, where to get our car fixed. We didn’t know the places to go, the places to not go. We decided that we would start this and see what would take off, and see if people would jump in to create some community feel. We wanted to be a helpful hand to someone who might not know anything about Savannah.
There’s a lot of people in the group now, over 13,000. Did you expect it to be this big?
It’s something I’m very proud of. I did not think it would grow this fast. We’ve learned a lot about the people in the group. It’s people from Savannah or moving to Savannah, or maybe their grandparents are from Savannah, or they lost something while visiting in Savannah.
We wanted to keep it community-based at first, but there’s just a lot of people who are in love with the town, so we decided to let visitors join the group too. We thought it would be a great opportunity to answer their questions and connect with them too.
What do you hope that people get out of joining this Facebook group?
When I see someone post something they’re interested in, and I see someone react to it, and they feel connected to others that way, that will never get old to me. It’s cool every time I see it. Someone wants to try something new, someone wants to promote an event, and people try it—to see that connection happen in real time that started in this group—to me, that’s so cool.
You and your wife also started a bagel business, Steamboat Bagels. Tell us about that.
Yeah, we pop up at Starland Yard, slinging bagel sandwiches. We partner with Starland Yard and the Loki Food Bus. We started it because we thought we could do it. We fly our bagels in from New York. We source meats locally here in Savannah, then we steam them to melt all the flavors together, and we serve up delicious sandwiches.
What is your favorite restaurant in Savannah?
This is tough. One that stands out in my mind is the Grey Market. Ardsley Station—I’ve also got to give them some love. I love that place. I know people miss the Atlantic, but people need to give [Ardsley Station] a chance.
It’s a Saturday and you’re free all day. What are you doing?
I am likely cracking a beer open and walking around the city. It’s my favorite thing to do, just walking around.
Is there anything else you want to add about yourself or Savannah Connection?
I absolutely love Savannah. I look at it from an outside perspective. Coming here, it was like a shot of inspiration. I came here and felt so inspired. There’s so much opportunity for this town. Me and my wife just felt inspired to do things and be a part of the community. So, I have a sense of gratitude here. I live in a place where people come to spend their vacation. That’s incredible to me. I get to live here. I always joke that I’ve been on vacation for two and a half years, since I moved here. I’m just so thankful to be here.
You can join “Savannah Connection” on Facebook by sending a request on the group’s page. Keep an eye out for Steamboat Bagels to return to Starland Yard in Spring 2022.