Will Save on Meats Make the Cut?

Photo credit: Raul P | Flickr

Chances are you’ve seen the big neon sign of a pig holding up a bag of money on Hastings Street.  Now’s your chance to learn the story behind Save on Meats, an unlikely Vancouver icon that’s been serving up fresh cuts since 1957, and find out if the business will remain afloat.

On Tuesday, Nov. 27,  Save on Meats is appearing on CBC’s The Big Decision, the hit reality show that focuses on Canadian businesses working to survive in a difficult economy.  The show’s investors must decide whether to step in and fund the struggling company or leave it to battle on alone.

Here’s hoping that Save on Meats gets the funding it needs.  The butcher shop has been operating at the same location since 1957, offering discount cuts to hungry Vancouverites and residents of the Downtown Eastside.  In the 1990s, former owner Al DesLauriers began receiving offers for the century-old building from condo developers.  He refused.  DesLauriers explained he’d rather give the business away for free to a new generation of butchers than sell out.

Ultimately, Save on Meats closed and stayed vacant for several years (though the neon pig sign continued to illuminate Hastings Street after dark).  In 2011, local restaurateur Mark Brand (who’s also behind Boneta, Sea Monstr Sushi and The Diamond) stepped in with a new vision.  After giving the landmark a million-dollar facelift and restoring the neon sign, he reopened Save on Meats as a butcher shop with an adjoining 40-seat lunch counter, breathing new life into a depressed section of the Downtown Eastside.

Photo credit: Random Shooter | Flickr

The food – decadent, old school diner fare like meatloaf, tuna melts, Reubens and banana splits – is excellent and the prices, at least for downtown Vancouver, are a steal.  The $6.95 “The Burger” special – a butcher-shop-fresh bacon burger with fries – might just be the best burger deal in the city.

But good food and a great vision apparently aren’t enough.  After being opened for less than two years, Save on Meats is in financial trouble.  Owner Brand faces mounting debts and the building needs further renovation.   Will he get the investment he needs to keep Save on Meats running?

Find out this Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 9 p.m. on CBC’s The Big Decision.

Any other Save on Meats fans out there?  Let us know below. 

Want more updates on Vancouver and beyond? Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza

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8 Responses to Will Save on Meats Make the Cut?

  1. Kevin

    We love this place. We come here for lunch every now and then. Please don’t shut down. >_<

  2. Gail Ferrier

    It should definitely be funded…. The concept is sound… but all businesses take time to grow… espcially in a “recovering neighbourhood”…. Far too often great ideas are abandoned for lack of funds just before the tipping edge of success…. Hoping the funding is approved.

  3. Save on Meats is a Vancouver icon.

    Hopefully there are Vancouver investors on the show that understand the significance of the work Mark and his wife are doing on the Downtown Eastside.

    If Oprah put Gastown Gamble on her Oprah channel, there has to be some substance to what they are doing. http://www.straight.com/article-579531/vancouver/save-meats-gets-oprah-treatment-gastown-gamble

  4. I’ve never eaten there, but I’ve watched the show and I think what he and his wife are trying to do for the community is commendable. They employ people who might otherwise face barriers to gainful employment. They give them a hand up, not a handout, which is empowering. They do all kinds of outreach in the community. I believe it’s not just a business, but a mission. I hope they can get financial backing and keep going.

  5. Robert

    The food is good, but not great. It will be sad if they closed as it’s an iconic Vancouver landmark. People come from far to eat at Save-On Meats. I’m hoping they don’t close, but they could change their food a little.

  6. I’ve only ever bought items from the bakery, but it is one of my favourite bakeries in the city. They do some really innovative things you don’t see in other bakeries (e.g. duck fat butter tarts, etc.), and the quality of ingredients they use is really high. Even without all the good things they are doing for the neighbourhood, I think it is worth saving for the food alone.

  7. Andrew

    Would like to see where their expenses are going.
    If you’re operating at a constant loss, then the business needs to be reviewed.


    I hope that this place does not go the wayside like alot of other awesome ingenius restaurants in our city,not only does the restauranteur follow the sustainable 100 mile diet but he had a TV show that was AWESOME…and not only is he keeping Vancouver Heritage alive but he is also making such a big difference in the lives of the not so fortunate that everyone seems to forget in this really self indulgent and entitled city.. Good Luck to you and I wish you many years of success in this dog eat dog business..If in fact you are going to succeed you need to perservere and I am with you all…xxox