What’s better than owning one of the most successful restaurants in Arcadia? Owning and operating 13 of them all around the state! And that makes Jim Riley one of the busiest guys around.
It all started with the opening of The Vig in 2006, a popular neighborhood eatery that has become a go-to place for Arcadia. Today he and his partners have a food and beverage conglomerate that spans seven brands and employs nearly 700 people.
“We wanted to create a place where people felt comfortable going, as singles, young couples, families with kids, anyone really,” Riley said of his Vig concept. Today there are five successful Vigs scattered throughout the Valley.
Riley moved to the Valley from upstate New York in 1982 and began tending bar until he found his calling. Turns out the bar and restaurant business was it and along the way, he also found himself a wife.
“The minute I laid eyes on Diane I knew we were going to marry,” he remembers with a grin. “She would come into the bar with her girlfriends and I made sure I was the one who served her.”
Four grown children and 30 years later, he has raised his family living on Calle del Paisano. “We just love Arcadia and have never once thought of leaving,” he said.
When asked for his secret to success in a tough business, Riley said it’s about staying relevant. “My partner, Tucker Woodbury, and I don’t take anything for granted and we’re always looking for ways to improve. People have lots of choices so we have to keep evolving.”
Early on, his father instilled a work ethic in Jim while also advising that health over wealth, is what matters most. “That went in one ear and out the other until I got older,” Riley admits. Ultimately that sage advice led him to finding sobriety, which he calls “the greatest gift I ever received.”
When Jim isn’t working long days and weeks, the history buff most looks forward to spending time with family. “Diane and my kids — Connor, McKenzie, Maddie and Grace — are what I’m most grateful for and I always look forward to the next time we’re all together.”
Underscoring his devotion to family, Riley labels his wife as a true mentor. “She likes to remind me that it’s not all about me.”
And that, quite possibly, is what has kept Riley grounded in his success.