The first-ever Hy’s Steakhouse was established in 1955 by Neil’s father, Hy Aisenstat, in Calgary, Alberta.
“When my dad decided to open a new restaurant, Hy’s the Sands in Vancouver shortly thereafter, our family moved to Vancouver,” he says. “Hy’s of Canada has been established in Vancouver ever since.”
Before his tenure as a restauranteur, Neil studied finance at the University of Colorado and Queen’s University. From there, he pursued a career in finance, working at the Bank of Montreal and Levesque Beaubien (now Caisse de Depot). “My passion for hospitality led me to Whistler, where I ran food and beverage for Whistler Mountain in the mid-nineties,” he explains. “I acquired the legendary Whistler nightclub, the Savage Beagle, shortly after.”
Neil took over his father’s business in 2011 and assumed the role of President and CEO of Hy’s of Canada. “In 2012, Hy’s restructured to become a partnership between me, my late brother, John, and Vancouver businessman, Rob Macdonald,” he says. Neil has been working in downtown Vancouver ever since taking over the family business. “Vancouver is a vibrant and energetic city. The food scene is incredible and has so many fantastic restaurants and bars,” says Neil. “Living downtown makes it easy to enjoy all the amazing things we have going on: concerts, sports, the arts, and access to some of the best outdoor spaces in the country.”
“Hy’s was built by my parents, Hy and Barbara Aisenstat,” says Neil. “It’s a Canadian icon and proudly Canada’s Premier Steakhouse.” In 2014, Neil and his team re-envisioned the Hy’s concept and built a new location in Calgary after a 10-year absence from the city. In 2019, the company’s growth continued as they opened a spectacular three-level flagship Hy’s Steakhouse on Bay Street in the downtown Toronto Financial District.
“Our team is constantly working on innovative new ideas, from service to décor to menu advancement,” he explains. “We embrace a culture of change in ways to successfully move our brands forward and never become stagnant.” Currently, Hy’s of Canada owns and operates six restaurants across the country including Gotham Steakhouse & Bar in Vancouver, and Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar locations in Whistler, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Toronto. “Our company has been around for a long time,” he says. “That’s not a small feat for the restaurant industry. We are looking forward to continued growth in all our locations and with future developments.”
“I’m very proud of our culture, which is based on respect and inclusion, and truly values each individual’s perspective and contribution,” says Neil. “While a global pandemic could never be considered a highlight, I am very proud that through those incredibly challenging times we were able to pivot to new ways of doing business and retain our team to emerge stronger than ever.”
According to Neil, philanthropy has always been an important part of the business, and their restaurants are actively involved in giving back to their communities. “In 2018, we established the John Aisenstat Memorial Scholarship in honour of my brother, John, who passed away that year,” he says. “The first partnership, with Vancouver Community College (VCC), provided financial assistance to students in the culinary arts and hospitality programs.” Since then, Hy’s has grown their philanthropic efforts by establishing scholarships and awards for culinary and hospitality college students across the country. “I’m really proud of these academic partnerships and the investment in the future of our industry.”
“As we head into the holiday season, we are truly thankful for the support and trust that Vancouver has given our restaurants over the decades,” says Neil. “We are passionate about our business and are looking forward to serving the community with true Hy’s hospitality for many years to come.”
You can visit a Hy’s of Canada location in Vancouver at Gotham Steakhouse & Bar at 615 Seymour Street or Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar at 637 Hornby Street.
Make a reservation online.