Employment Opportunity Opens Doors in Downtown Eastside

Save On Meats is a local diner with a rich history in Vancouver’s downtown eastside district. With the support of Open Door Group, they provided meaningful job opportunities to longtime friends Brad and Randy, who both lived in poverty and previously faced barriers to employment.

Brad and Randy have been good friends for over ten years and are almost inseparable. They met on Randy’s forty-third birthday in Calgary and decided to move to Vancouver to be closer to family. When they first arrived in 2011, they both struggled to find steady employment and had no other choice but to sleep in their car or shelters.

A year later, they were on welfare and living in a hotel. Brad learned about an organization called Open Door Group (ODG), a non-profit whose mission is to open doors and create career success for individuals facing barriers to employment.

One of ODG’s employer partners, and a Presidents Group member company, Save On Meats, is a local diner in Vancouver’s downtown eastside district. Brad had culinary experience, so Open Door Group supported him through the hiring process. He landed a job as a dishwasher at Save on Meats.

Randy, too, had experience working in a kitchen, but as someone who identified as having a disability, he found it even more difficult to find a steady culinary job in Vancouver.

In fact, Randy wasn’t alone. Statistics Canada reports that individuals living with a disability in Canada are twice as likely to be living in poverty as people without disabilities. Randy was determined not to be another statistic. After a year and a half of seeing Brad excel at Save On Meats and getting to know the staff, he also joined the team as a dishwasher.

Both men quickly became an integral part of the team, supporting the meal program and back of house. Brad worked his way up from being a dishwasher, and then worked in prep and cooked over 750 meals per day for Save On Meat’s Single Room Occupancy (SRO) partners, which proudly serve individuals in the homeless community he was once a part of.

He also made “the best damn waffles in Vancouver” according to Ash MacLeod, Save On Meats’ Director of Operations and Presidents Group member.

As a result, Brad and Randy are no longer on welfare, they live independently, and were employed full-time by Save on Meats for a collective 16 years!

When asked about their employment journey, Brad said:

“Save On Meats is like family to me…it’s nice serving meals to people too.”

Randy added:

“It’s nice to have employment that’s steady and dependable.”

The management team at Save On Meats couldn’t agree more, that’s why in addition to working with Open Door Group, they’ve created what they call a “barrier-free employee hiring program.”

They work with over 20 community placement agencies, including YMCA–Youth Skills at Work program, Ready, Willing and Able through the Pacific Autism Family Centre, Disabilities Association of Vancouver, and BC Partners in Workforce Innovation; to name a few.

Through this program and many others, Save On Meats looks forward to opening their doors to anyone who is dedicated, willing to put in the time, and looking for an opportunity to showcase their talents.

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