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J. Riley Lagesen

Riley founded and chairs DWT’s national restaurant industry practice group and is considered a leading business and legal force in the United States restaurant industry. He represents many of the nation’s most recognized brands and culinary talent and has significant experience with financing transactions of all types, including private equity, family office, and high net worth individuals. He is also known nationally for his development acumen and connections and assists many concepts with navigating traditional and non-traditional development strategies, including franchises, joint ventures, licenses, and management agreements.

He leads approximately 60 professionals on DWT’s restaurant team, which he specifically formed due to his many years as a restaurant employee, manager, and owner in Los Angeles prior to entering the practice of law. He collaborates extensively with restaurant leaders and elected officials around the United States on forward-thinking food policy initiatives.

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.

DWT Restaurant Team Services Led by Riley
Private equity, 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
  • Mendocino Farms
  • Lemonade
  • Salt & Straw Ice Cream
  • Tender Greens
  • Luke’s Lobsters
  • Modern Market
  • Blaze Pizza
  • Punch Bowl Social
  • Taylor Gourmet
  • Momofuku Holdings
  • Urbane Café
  • Hopdoddy
  • Protein Bar
  • The Kitchen
  • Wurstkuche
  • Next Door American Eatery
  • Upward Projects
  • Thirsty Lion
  • Frontera Hospitality Group
  • Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Restaurants
  • Dos Toros Taqueria
  • 800 Degrees
  • SunLife Organics
  • Starbird
  • Sushiritto
  • Super Duper Burgers
  • Back of the House Inc.
  • The Habit Burger Grill
  • Joe and the Juice
  • Asian Box
  • Tom Douglas Restaurants
  • Nekter Juice Bar
  • The Matador
  • Patachou, Inc.
  • Ivan Orkin
  • Pok Pok
  • DOSA
  • Guy Fieri
  • Illegal Pete’s
  • Velvet Taco
  • Michael Mina
  • Carla Hall
  • Landry’s
  • The Edison
  • The Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Think Food Group
  • Murray Bros. Caddyshack
  • Erin McKenna’s Bakery
  • Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
  • Top Pot Doughnuts
  • PepperJax Grill
  • Bruxie
  • Vitaly Paley Restaurants
  • ChefStable
  • Submarine Hospitality


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
The United Tastes of America 2017
Lagesen Named to Restaurant News Power List 2015