Earlier this year, after 19 years of serving the Stanford community, Jimmy Viglizzo stepped down as manager of Jimmy V’s Sports Café and passed the torch to longtime partner Kevin Santia.
Viglizzo formed a limited partnership with Santia in December 2017. The café has since been renamed from Jimmy V’s to Jimmy V’s & Company. Although Santia became the managing partner at the beginning of this year, little else has changed: The café’s loyal employees, menu and decór remains the same, Viglizzo says. The café, located in the Arrillaga Family Sports Center, is a favorite campus eatery for many at Stanford, from training staff to athletes and coaches to non-athletes.
While Viglizzo will continue to assist with the cafe’s operations as an advisor, he will no longer “do the daily grind,” he said. When asked about his decision to step aside, Viglizzo deflected attention to Santia.
“The story should be about Kevin, who’s worked with me for 35 years,” Viglizzo said.
Santia first began working for Viglizzo when he was 16 years old, as a dishwasher in the meat and deli department in John’s Town and Country Market. Santia rose through the ranks and subsequently became Viglizzo’s head chef. When Jimmy V’s opened on Stanford’s campus in the late 1990s, Santia was Viglizzo’s first employee and eventually became Viglizzo’s top manager.
At Jimmy V’s, Santia spearheaded the performance menu – meals that maximize athletic performance through proper nutrition – as well as the healthy smoothie menu and the cafe’s partnership with BeWell, a program that aims to inspire the Stanford community to lead healthy lifestyles. Santia has already hired a new head chef to continue Jimmy V’s development.
“A great organization means when you leave, it gets better,” Viglizzo said. “And that’s what I feel like is going to happen with Kevin in charge.”
Becoming the managing partner brings new challenges for Santia.
“I’ve run this place no problem, but I’ve never really done the ordering of the meat or the ordering of all the catering supplies; I’ve only set everything up,” Santia said.
Viglizzo has been instrumental in helping him transition into his new role. “[Jimmy] introduced me to connections in the fish industry and the meat industry, and that’s been a big help,” Santia said.
Viglizzo, a self-proclaimed workaholic, has been “a little emotional” about taking time away from the café. However, he is excited for the future of Jimmy V’s & Company with Santia at the helm.
“I’m really happy about this opportunity for him,” Viglizzo said. “I look at Kevin not as an employee, but as a family member.”
The feelings are mutual. “Jimmy is like a father figure to me,” Santia said.
Viglizzo has also opened a small consulting business on the side, but intends to continue assisting with the café’s operations. In his time away from his business and the cafe, he plans to spend more time with his new grandson and watch Jimmy V’s & Company grow.
After stepping down, Viglizzo also looks forward to attending all of next season’s Stanford football games.
“I haven’t been to a [Stanford football] game in 19 years because I’ve worked all the tailgates,” he said. “Now, I’ll be able to sit down and enjoy a game, and go to one of the tailgates [that] Kevin will cater.”
Contact Alex Tsai at aotsai ‘at’ stanford.edu.