Casa Vega Restaurant
“Once I started working here, I immediately fell in love with the staff and the business. It is my first and last thought each day.”
CategoryEat & Drink
13301 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks | 818-788-4868 | casavega.com
Christy Vega Fowler, owner of Mexican restaurant and bar Casa Vega, is the third generation of Vega family members working in the restaurant business in LA, and her three boys are showing great signs of becoming the fourth generation. “My children beg to come to work with me!” she says. Christy’s grandparents opened Café Caliente on Olvera Street in downtown LA in the 1930s. Her father, Rafael Vega, who owned many businesses in Las Vegas and California, started Casa Vega in 1956 when he was 22 years old. It instantly was a celebrity hangout, boasting regulars such as Marlon Brando, Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon. Christy, who has worked at Casa Vega for the past 12 years—after graduating from Saint Mary’s College with a degree in business administration and economics—took over the reins so her father could retire four years ago. She runs the restaurant’s daily operations, while Rafael Vega’s cousin, Rick Chavari, is the restaurant’s general manager and has worked at Casa Vega since 1977. Rafael still goes to the office daily and attends weekly management meetings with his wife, Charleen.
Do you and your family members spend time together outside of work?
“Yes, we are extremely close. The Vega grandchildren always want to be at their grandparents’ home. We cook together, throw parties together and laugh together.”
How does sharing common values with your family give you a competitive edge for your business?
“I was raised to have a huge work ethic. We all love to work and enjoy it. I never grew up thinking my dad was forced to go to work out of obligation to the family. He went with a smile every day, as I now do.”
What is your hope for the future—generations to come—for your company?
“That they enjoy the restaurant as much as my dad and I have.”
What’s your best advice for keeping family issues and business issues separate when running a family-owned firm?
“Realizing that no matter what disagreement you are having, no one but family has your best interest at heart. The familial trust in a business is priceless.”
What’s most rewarding about your work?
“Talking to customers at Casa Vega and hearing their own personal stories of coming to the restaurant for generations.”