Riley’s Bar and Grill celebrates 30 years in Chico with hype


Reiley’s celebrated its 30th anniversary April 30 with live music and beer for everyone over 21. Photo credit: George Johnston

Michelle Zhu

Locals, students and alumni made their way to the heart of downtown Chico on April 30 to celebrate 30 years of service at Riley’s Bar and Grill.

Since April 25, 1986, Riley’s has expanded its loyal patrons, who are considered friends. That same year, a patron made a sign that hangs over the front door reading, “Enter as a stranger … Leave as a friend.”

That saying seems to hold true. Two alumni at the bar were Katey Martin and Vanessa Bryan,1999 Chico graduates, who wanted to get out of town to “hang with the girls.” Reasons they came out was because of connections with fraternity brothers and sorority sisters. “We knew we could come here and know everyone and see familiar faces,” said Martin and Bryan. When asked what their best memories of Riley’s was one of them responded that the idea was not to have memories after going to Riley’s.

Couple and 1989 alumni Mike and Sarah Marsh also wanted to join the fun and relive college for a day. When asked what is so great about Riley’s, Mike Marsh said, “Because it’s Riley’s! Riley’s rocks. It’s the best bar on earth.” Mike and Sarah Marsh consider themselves loyal customers since they live only two blocks away. They knew the owners when they first opened Riley’s. The couple showed support by purchasing “30 Year Reunion T-shirts” for the event.

Mike and Sarah Marsh have been loyal to Riley’s since it opened. Photo credit: Michelle Zhu


Current seniors at Chico State Sarah Weinberg and Emily Byrd want to take any chance to go to Riley’s since they’re graduating soon. They enjoy the bar for its convenient location in downtown and for the familiar faces. “Even if I don’t know someone, they’re usually a friend of a friend,” Weinberg said.

A bouncer estimated there to be at least 2,000 customers who came through the door.

According to the official website, Riley’s is the No. 1 Jack Daniels drinking bar in Northern California.

The bar restaurant is known for its various specials: two for one burgers on Mondays, half-off night on Wednesdays, daily draft specials, happy hours everyday 4-7 p.m., and the legendary “Power Hour” in which drinks start at 25 cents for the first 15 minutes, 50 cents for the next 15 minutes, 75 cents for the next and then $1 drinks. “Wins all around”, said a BuzzFeed user when Riley’s was listed on “The 29 Best College Bars in America.”

Owners Kevin and Nick plan to host parties at every birthday and have memorable, or not so memorable, fun for college students and alumni alike.

Michelle Zhu can be reached at [email protected] or @mmichellezhuu on Twitter.