It was January 1981 when 21-year-old Ken Riley left his job in management with the Frisch’s Corporation and opened the restaurant that would become a cornerstone of the Greenhills community. Back then, the original Riley’s Restaurant was located in the Greenhills Shopping Center and was known for its chili and double deckers.
In 1984, Ken met and married Gloria Shea. Gloria’s organizational and management skills blended nicely with Ken’s passion for the restaurant business and customer relations. That year, the two doubled the size of Riley’s to 2000 square feet when they took over the dress shop next door.
In 1993, Riley’s Restaurant moved to a new location in the Greenhills Shopping Center and grew to 4000 square feet. The business expanded one last time in 1995 when the couple added a bakery and the Pioneer Room, a gathering place for large groups that celebrates Riley’s community roots and Greenhills history.
In 2007, Riley’s moved to its new location in Springdale. The restaurant, at 11568 Springfield Pike, is again a community cornerstone with its central position in the Springdale Town Center. The restaurant’s Springdale Room, decorated with historic photos of the community, can be used for private parties or large gatherings. Customers are like family at Riley’s Restaurant. And, as always, Riley’s is the place for great meals.
How many cookie jars are there at Riley’s Restaurant? According to Gloria Riley, there are over 300 cookie jars–and that doesn’t include the seasonal ones like Christmas.
When Riley’s expanded in 1993, the restaurant’s insurance agent gifted Ken and Gloria with a flower arrangement in a cookie jar. That first cookie jar was shaped like a milk carton with “moo” written across the front. “Ken liked the idea of something we could collect together,” said Gloria, and so the restaurant’s signature decorating style began.
When the restaurant expanded to include a new bakery in 1995, about 20 antique cookies jars were added to the growing collection. The Riley’s also like to bring home a themed cookie jar from favorite vacation spots. In fact, “The Honeymooners” and the “Elvis in His Pink Cadillac” were part of a Christmas shopping trip in Nashville, Tennessee. Several years ago, the Riley’s menu was redesigned to include some of the most popular cookie jars.
These days, cookies jars can show up unexpectedly. People often gift the Riley’s with special family heirlooms when they’re moving or want to share a piece of their own family history. One year, someone rang the back door at the restaurant and left a snowman cookie jar as a gift. Each new cookie jar finds its special spot at Riley’s and is a welcome addition to the collection.