Christina “Christy” Vega, the spirited, talented, and dynamic owner of Casa Vega, was born in Burbank, CA, in 1977 to a long line of restaurateurs. Her grandparents, who immigrated to Southern California from Tijuana, Mexico, in the late 1930s, were the proprietors of Café Caliente, a famous nightclub and restaurant that thrived for 18 years on Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. Christy’s father, Rafael Vega, followed in his family footsteps and opened Casa Vega in 1956 in Sherman Oaks, CA, at the young age of 22, establishing what became a well-known hangout for celebrities like Cary Grant and Marlon Brando. Honoring her father’s legacy as the restaurant celebrates its landmark 65th anniversary this year, Christy ensures that Casa Vega remains a Los Angeles landmark for generations to come.
After obtaining a B.S. in business administration and economics from Saint Mary’s College of California in Northern California in 1999, Christy moved back to Los Angeles to learn the ropes of her family’s oldest business. “I grew up learning about the restaurant industry, so it was only natural for me to continue in my family’s footsteps,” she explains. “I think the secret to Casa Vega’s success is the love and respect our family has for the restaurant. I honor the history and tradition of Casa Vega and am always trying to improve the experiences for our customers. It also helps that my father, Ray Vega, was an incredible businessman who taught me everything I know.”
Christy returned to Los Angeles at age 22, the same age her father opened Casa Vega. Since then, she has worked every aspect and position of the restaurant, including back office, on the floor, and in the kitchen. Christy loves to carefully recreate her family’s recipes that have been passed down through the generations. “Working in the kitchen provides me with an opportunity to interact with the back of the house while doing something I love: cooking,” says Christy. She has now been at Casa Vega for more than 21 years and has worked tirelessly to continue the restaurant’s traditions while also modernizing its operations.
Throughout 2020, Christy demonstrated creativity, flexibility, and resilience in the face of COVID-19. At the onset of the pandemic, Christy swiftly adapted to the ever-changing regulations, pivoting the restaurant to takeout via a brand-new makeshift drive-thru. Christy also debuted online ordering and reservations as well as outdoor dining for the first time in the restaurant’s history, all while retaining Casa Vega’s beloved, iconic atmosphere and warmth. She streamlined the menu, lowered prices, and implemented technology and internal systems to not only ensure guest safety but her team’s safety as well. In October, Casa Vega launched a series of taco collaborations with bands like Fall Out Boy and Foo Fighters, and actress Dakota Fanning, teaming up with each to create a month-long taco special, with proceeds benefitting No Us Without You, a pandemic-born non-profit benefitting back-of-house restaurant workers and their families.
Christy was named one of the “Top 40 under 40” business professionals in 2010 by the San Fernando Business Journal. She has also appeared in countless local and national TV segments including NBC’s “TODAY” Show, CBS’s “This Morning,” Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family,” and the “Rachael Ray” show. She was prominently featured in the restaurant’s remodeling segment of Bravo’s “Flipping Out,” has been a reoccurring guest judge on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and was recently spotlighted on the Food Network Kitchen app recreating family recipes for a live audience.
Outside the restaurant Christy brings the Casa Vega spirit home. She lives just a few miles from the restaurant with her husband and four sons and enjoys hosting family and friends.