Trendy restaurants come and go, but Hy’s Steakhouse knows that thriving over the long haul requires more than photos on social media. It needs a menu offering longtime favorites while also exploring new directions. Longevity means classical ambience, attentive service, and a sincere relationship with clientele. For 40 years, Hy’s has maintained the highest standards while remaining rooted in its community, two qualities emphasized by its ongoing support for Kapi‘olani Community College’s culinary arts program.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Hy’s gave $15,000 to Kapi‘olani CC in admiration of the school’s role in the restaurant scene in Hawai‘i. “Strong restaurants are important contributors to a healthy tourism industry,” says Marc Nezu, the steakhouse’s general manager.
Maintaining close ties doesn’t stop with charitable gifts totaling more than $41,000 over the past four years. About 15 Kapi‘olani CC interns and graduates, from the school’s culinary arts and hospitality programs, have worked in the restaurant, including Hy’s executive chef Justin Inagaki. Nezu explains, “Students and alumni at Kapi‘olani Community College value the multicultural experience, which gives them an advantage in an area like Waikīkī. They understand nuances in European and Asian interaction and are well equipped for them.”
Kapi‘olani CC has more international students than the rest of Hawai‘i’s community colleges combined, and was ranked 7th on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2014 list of most diverse two-year colleges in the nation.
“Justin is still in his mid-20s,” adds Nezu, “and I think Hy’s was one of his first jobs as a cook, right out of Kapi‘olani. He moved up quickly, and when he had the opportunity, he took it and ran with it. He’s infusing a lot of fresh air and innovation into our menu, while staying true to our core concepts.”
It is for graduates like Justin Inagaki that Hy’s continues its generosity on campus and in the restaurant. “Whether their future opportunities are at Hy’s or wherever,” Nezu says, “we just want to support their dreams.”