skip to main content
Experience List
  • Email Page
  • Create PDF
  • Print Page

J. Riley Lagesen

Riley chairs DWT’s National Restaurant Industry Practice Group and is recognized as one of the leading business and legal forces in the restaurant industry. As a former restaurant employee and manager, and owner of a restaurant concept in Los Angeles, Riley came to the practice of law with the specific purpose of creating a legal team that could best represent the needs of restaurateurs in the variety of substantive legal areas of interest to their businesses. Today, the DWT restaurant industry team counts more than 60 attorneys, representing the diverse needs of restaurant businesses of all types and sizes around the globe.

Riley and his clients envision a world where all people have access to real food, and that the proliferation of high quality restaurants is an efficient, dynamic, and effective means of achieving that goal. To effectuate this vision, Riley has developed critical relationships with the finance community, significant contract operators, and key leaders who are similarly focused.

As a result, Riley and the DWT team are at the center of many of the most significant transactions in the industry. As the creator and driving force behind the not-for-profit and invitation-only Restaurant High business, leadership and advocacy summit, Riley galvanizes industry leaders through a day of education, networking, and fun with many of the most influential minds in the business.

Riley and the DWT team assists restaurateurs with navigating financing options through all stages of the business. This includes early-stage funding with high net worth accredited investors, private equity/family office funding, public offerings, and commercial finance. With extensive relationships and experience in this area, Riley and DWT are familiar with the various transactional structures and financing strategies that are available and/or best suited for each business at its particular stage of growth.

From domestic to international development, Riley helps restaurateurs understand development structures (corporate, franchised, joint ventures, management contracts) and evaluate, adopt, and implement effective strategies. Riley is known globally for specific expertise in development of non-traditional venues, including airports, casinos, hotels and resorts, university campuses, and health care facilities.

Outside General Counsel
Riley plays the role of lead outside general counsel to many restaurateurs, helping them best navigate their diverse legal needs.

Riley believes in policies that help exceptional restaurateurs bring real food to more people. He also believes that people with access to real food and food information tend to make smarter decisions, and that free choice should trump food regulation. A significant number of Americans lack access to real food due to barriers created by proximity, price or free choice, which exacerbates the serious health problems Americans face. A number of current and pending policies, although well-intended, will, if left untempered, have the effect of increasing such barriers. Riley, his clients, and the DWT team are committed to policy innovation that will remove such barriers and enable millions of presently underserved Americans to enjoy the best the restaurant industry has to offer.

DWT Team Services
Finance (including private and public securities and commercial finance), franchising, real estate, employment, labor, benefits, intellectual property, marketing and advertising, tax, immigration, liquor, food safety, food products litigation, business litigation, estate and succession planning.

Representative Clients
  • Cava Mezze Grill
  • Tender Greens
  • Mendocino Farms
  • Lemonade Restaurant Group
  • Modmarket
  • The Kitchen/The Kitchen Next Door
  • Guy Fieri
  • Protein Bar
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Eleven City Diner
  • Snooze an AM Eatery
  • Pok Pok/Andy Ricker
  • Frontera Foods/Rick Bayless
  • The Veggie Grill
  • John Besh/Besh Restaurant Group
  • The Habit
  • Matador Restaurant Group
  • Carla Hall/Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen
  • Chris Cosentino
  • The Mina Group
  • Think Food Group
  • Simms Restaurant Group
  • One Off Hospitality Group
  • Bromberg Bros Blue Ribbon Restaurants
  • Panda Restaurant Group
  • Harry Morton Holdings/Pink Taco
  • McCormick & Schmick’s
  • Chefstable
  • Ballard Brands
  • Urbane Cafe
  • Kerry Simon
  • Asian Box
  • Landry’s, Inc.
  • Aaron Sanchez
  • Lasco Enterprises/Max’s Wine Dive
  • Qdoba
  • Ivan Orkin/Ivan Ramen
  • Lark Creek Restaurant Group
  • Delfina Restaurant Group
  • Sushiritto
  • Nekter Juice Bar
  • Project Pie
  • Umami Burger
  • Concept Entertainment Group
  • Kinetescape Inc. (The Edison LA)
  • Real Mex
  • Punch Bowl Social
  • 800 Degrees
  • Wurstkuche
  • Salt & Straw Ice Cream
  • Bamboo Sushi
  • Super Duper Burgers
  • Boudin Bakery
  • Pinkberry

Professional & Community Activities

  • Creator, Restaurant High
  • The Kitchen Community Learning Gardens Program
  • Guy Fieri’s Cooking with Kids Foundation
  • Coach, CYO Track & Field

Professional Recognition

  • Received the "H. Stewart Tremaine Award for Exemplary Team Work," Davis Wright Tremaine, 2015
  • Listed on "The Power List 2015: Reader Picks," by Nation’s Restaurant News, 2015
  • Selected to "Oregon Rising Stars" in Business/Corporate/Franchising, Thomson Reuters, 2009, 2013
Lagesen Named to Restaurant News Power List 2015