If you’ve ever wondered what goes into opening a restaurant—or you’re a fan of reality television, especially shows that are based in Vancouver—you may want to check out Gastown Gamble, a new series premiering on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) on January 18 at 6:30 p.m.
The TV show, which wrapped up filming last October, focuses on the revitalization of Save On Meats (43 West Hastings Street), a restaurant and butcher shop with a 55-year-old history. Restaurateur Mark Brand, who owns six other local businesses including Gastown restaurants Boneta and The Diamond, reopened Save On Meats with his wife and business partner, Nicole “Nico” Brand, in spring 2011.
I had a chance to watch the first two episodes ahead of their air dates, and the show is entertaining. Mark is charismatic on camera, and the different personalities on his staff get equal amounts of air time, giving each half-hour episode lots of variety.
The first episode captures the challenges of opening a restaurant, as the Brands rush to get the restaurant and butcher shop ready for the grand opening, but struggle to get the smoke alarms and emergency lights working during a building inspection. Meanwhile, Nico, who manages the butcher shop and deli, finds herself knee-deep in $25,000 worth of meat, but only eight hours to prep and slice it.
In the second episode, titled “Ready, Set, Wow this is not what we expected”, Mark and his management staff count their losses as the butcher shop struggles to make a profit and hiring from the Downtown Eastside brings in problems of its own.
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