The Keg Steakhouse and Bar Canada

November 22, 2020

The Keg was created by Vancouver entrepreneur George Tidball in 1971.

Mr. Tidball’s first restaurant location was in the lower level of an old industrial building in the Moodyville area of lower Lonsdale, British Columbia. This original restaurant was called The Keg and Cleaver.

The Keg’s 98 restaurant locations across Canada.

Mr. Tidball sure knew the right combination needed to create a successful restaurant: excellent food and outstanding service, along with a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere where patrons could enjoy casual fine, casual dining.

Besides founding The Keg Restaurants, Mr. Tidball also brought McDonald’s Restaurants to Western Canada. He was a great influence in the Canadian restaurant industry, making positive and deep-rooted changes.

Mr. Tidball was celebrated at the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame awards event in Vancouver, for his contribution to the Canadian restaurant industry. To honour him, five hundred people stood up and clinked glasses filled with Grand Marnier because, for a time, The Keg was one of the biggest buyers of Grand Marnier in the entire world.

All the beautiful mansions
The Keg is famed for purchasing historical properties and turning them into beautiful and sophisticated restaurants. Shown here is the Keg Mansion on Jarvis Street in Toronto, Ontario.

The Keg Mansion on Jarvis Street in Toronto, Ontario.
The “waiting hall” at the Keg Mansion in Toronto, Ontario.
The Keg Manor in Ottawa, ON
The entry hall at The Keg Manor in Ottawa, Ontario.

Beyond its magnificent buildings, the Keg’s menu is among the best in North America. From their appetizers of calamari, escargot and baked bried, through to their wide range of steaks and prime rib accompanied by perfectly cooked seafood and/or vegetables, diners’ palates are delighted each and every time. Oh, and let’s not forget their mouth-watering desserts of cheesecake and crème brûlée, to mention just a couple.

The Keg’s Rib Steak

For the 12th consecutive year, The Keg has been ranked as one of Canada’s 50 best employers
(compiled by Aon Hewitt).

Mr. Tidball was very warm and friendly with all of his staff, and that included those who did the food prep, busboys, servers and the folks who took care of the dirty dishes. In fact, he regularly entered the restaurant through the kitchen door so he could spend some time with the staff who worked back there. And, if you talked about horses, you could really grab his attention!

Financial and physical operations
For a number of years, both the financial and physical operations of the Keg (KRL) have been managed by David Aisenstat. He was involved in selling KRL to the British firm Whitbread PLC in 1987 and in 1997, Aisenstat arranged to finance a purchase of 100% of KRL back from Whitbread.

In 2014, Aisenstat sold 51% of his private holdings in The Keg to Fairfax Financial, a publicly traded Canadian holding company.

In February 2018, Cara Operations purchased The Keg for $200 million. The deal closed that month with Fairfax Financial and David Aisenstat sharing $105 million, plus 3.8 million Cara subordinate voting shares. 

Aisenstat joined the Board of Directors of Cara, and assumed responsibility for the higher-end brands within the 19 different restaurant chains then held by Cara.

It was announced on May 10, 2018, that Cara Operations would be renamed Recipe Unlimited Corporation.

Sadly, Mr. Tidball died on June 3, 2014. He was 83.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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