Gastown Gamble premieres tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET on OWN Canada. The eight part reality series, from Lark Productions, tells the remarkable story of Save-On-Meats, a 55-year-old butcher shop/deli in the heart of Vancouver’s notorious Gastown district.
When I was in Vancouver last month to visit the set of Alcatraz, I hopped in a cab along with Toronto Star TV columnist Rob Salem and stopped by Save-On-Meats for lunch. Good tip, Netta Rondinelli–best corn beef sandwich I’ve ever tasted. Mark Brand is the spark plug behind this revival, a true entrepreneur with several business’s in the area.
Save-On-Meats is a big risk, however. Brand has completely restored the place, spending $116,000 just to upgrade the facade and iconic neon “piggy” sign out front. He will have to generate a ton of revenue to continue to rebuild and maintain the business. He sure seems to be on the right track judging by the many customers who were there the day we visited. Brand is trying to do more than just run a deli shop, however. He is trying to turn around an entire community.
The two-minute video, above, features Brand telling a great story about breaking the news to his wife Nicole (everybody calls her “Nico”) that he was getting into the meat business. The girl freaked for a second, then quit her job and threw in with him, studying everything she could about the butcher business. A bit of a switch from her former job in the fashion world.
That’s Salem you hear chuckling off camera. Me thinks the two of us should team up for a reality show tour of deli’s and TV sets across Canada. Corus, are you listening?
For more on Brand, Save-On-Meats and tonight’s Gastown Gamble premiere, check out this story I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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