Save on Meats opened in 1957 and was founded by Sunny Wosk, part of the Vancouver family known for the Wosk department store chain. When Al Deslauriers started working in the deli, Sunny made the young man a deal: if he could run the meat department like he owned it, Sunny would sell him the store. He did.
Deslauriers closed the shop when he retired at 78 in 2009. He had refused several offers to sell the building for condo development, so he was thrilled when Mark and Nicole Brand bought the building to re-open the legendary diner and meat shop in June 2011.
Save on Meats aims to operate as a food hub that serves the community and supplies Mark Brand’s coterie of popular Gastown restaurants. Its laundry service and commissary kitchen employs Downtown Eastside residents. More than 200 lunches from the building a day go to people living in local single-room occupancy hotels.
“I can make you a meal for under $5.
We have really nice sausages and they’re homemade. And then you can get a vegetable, and you can even go to the takeaway window and get a bowl of chili for under $5 and a bun. Then come in and get maybe a cookie or something for dessert.
During the summer, you could get two souvlaki for $2. Some of them had eight pieces of meat. So that’s 16 pieces of meat. Then, go and get some soup or something, do it that way, and you’re still under $5 but it’s nutritious.
And you’ve got your protein and you could toss in a cookie too. With tax, they’re $0.84.”
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-Helen Hill, Save on Meats deli employee