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Revamped Save-On-Meats subject of Oprah network series

Following a tough restoration, Vancouver's historic Save-on-Meats re-opens tomorrow -- and soon, everyone will have behind-the-scenes access.

The revamped four-floor, 22,000 square-foot food hub is the subject of a national documentary series, currently in production with the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The series will chronicle the "trials and tribulations" of re-opening the shop, as well as the challenges of meeting both a business and social mandate, said city restauranteur Mark Brand, who took on the project after the original Save-on-Meats closed in 2009. 

"What we're trying to do is provide the community with healthy, affordable food. A place that they remember, but also bringing it up a notch (in terms of) nutrition and stable employment for a ton of residents," said Brand. Of the 70 employees Brand recently hired, over 40 are Downtown Eastside residents.

"Our plan from the outset was to make sure that this was serving the community in the Downtown Eastside," he said.

Brand said he was careful to ensure that everyone involved was comfortable with the documentary filming. "It's a super sensitive area, and residents are at risk. I wanted to make sure that A, none of that was being exploited, or B, was the focus," he said. "I think I was a little over-cautious, because everybody so far is just really excited to be part of it."

According to Save-on-Meats' website, the new building includes a restored butcher shop, as well as a "self-powered organic rooftop green house, in house composting and bike delivery." 

Save-on-Meats, located at 43 West Hastings Street, opens Wednesday at noon.

Robyn Smith writes for the Tyee and others.

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