After opening for a little over two years, Save On Meats (43 West Hastings Street) will close temporarily starting September 2. Owner Mark Brand, who owns several Gastown restaurants, announced over social media on August 26 that the restaurant would shut its doors due to circumstances out his control.
“Anthem [Properties] bought the building and they’re taking the top three floors and remodelling it into office space, trying to put in agreeable tenants to social mandate, and figuring out what that looks like as a long-term land-hold versus development,” Brand clarifies to the Georgia Straight in a phone interview today (August 28). “Of course you get your hurdles. A lot of people don’t understand when coming into a heritage building what a nightmare it’s going to be.”
According to the Brand, the Vancouver-based real estate development company will be making seismic upgrades to the top-three floors, ground floor, and sub-basement of the building. With it, comes the closure of both the Save On Meats butcher shop and diner.
“My butcher shop will go down to about a third of its size, and behind it is the really exciting part where our brand-new community kitchen is being built,” Brand says. The expanded kitchen will house the restaurant’s meal program, which provides Atira Women’s Resource Society—a Downtown Eastside non-profit that works to end violence against women by providing housing, services, and educational programs—up to 650 meals per day; as well as the restaurant’s mentorship program, which provides small food-related businesses a place to get on their feet.
“We’ve now partnered with Vancouver Community College and the city, and we’re almost done the deal to do an incubator kitchen back there too,” Brand reveals. “This is a project I’ve been working on with the city for three years now. It’s a Vision-backed thing, a Greenest City initiative. It’s also jobs, jobs, jobs—that’s what we’re pushing it for.”
Brand says that the project will go to city council for alternate funding in October; however, VCC has already pledged $500,000 towards the incubator kitchen for a five-year program.
While Save On Meats is closed for renovations, the business will open as a pop-up restaurant at 1 West Cordova, which was the original location for Brand’s Boneta restaurant and currently houses No. 1 Noodle House, which he also owns.
“No. 1 Noodle was an experiment. It was slated to actually finish at the beginning of September,” he says. “We’re going to make it the Save On test kitchen.”
Brand says that at the test kitchen, diners will be invited to help develop a portion of the restaurant’s new menu. Customers can order signature menu items, such as the Save On Meats burger, and leave comments on how they think it could be improved.
Save On Meats patrons will also be able to continue purchasing sandwich tokens , which provide hot breakfast sandwiches to those in need. Brand says that between 60 and 120 tokens are currently redeemed each day and that the sandwich window will continue to operate through the renovations.
While Brand cannot confirm a reopening date for Save On Meats, he hopes that the restaurant and butcher shop will be back at its Hastings home by the end of the year.
“Best case scenario, we could open before Christmas. I really, really want to have the butcher shop open for Christmas,” he says. “When we do reopen, we’ll be doing a massive block party.”