Skyler Reeves, proprietor of Vivili Hospitality Group, heads up three of Prescott’s most adored restaurants: The Barley Hound, Rosa’s Pizzeria and Taco Don’s. (Plus, Prescott’s largest restaurant, La Planchada, is slated to open this fall!) Learn about Skyler Reeves…
Hometown: I grew up in a tiny town called Pinckney, Michigan. I lived there until I was 18. For the last six years, I’ve called Prescott home.
First job: My first real job was as a bus boy at a fine dining restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I lied about my age to get the job (I was only 16, and I said I was 18). I loved that job, and I didn’t know it at the time, but I think it’s a big reason why I fell in love with restaurants.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in AZ: I love to go mountain biking when I have free time. There are so many great trails in Arizona, especially in Prescott. If not mountain biking, then I like going to dinner with my friends or hanging out with my two kids, Liam and Vivian.
Person who has impacted your life the most and why: My father. He recently passed away and now that he’s gone, I realize what a huge positive impact he had on my life. He was always there for me, reliable and always gave me good, concise and clear advice. I’m so lucky to have had such a positive and steady role model for all these years.
Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes and why: My biggest accomplishment was opening my first restaurant, The Barley Hound. I bootstrapped it together, barely made it happen and was totally broke by the time it opened. Now it has far exceeded my expectations and has opened the door for many new opportunities. The Barley Hound will always be a very special place for me. It really changed my life.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: At the onset of the pandemic in March, I made tough decisions to consolidate my three Prescott-area restaurants (The Barley Hound, Rosa’s Pizzeria and Taco Don’s), pause my catering company, stop construction on my newest restaurant (and the city’s largest) that was set to open in April and lay off more than half of my 100-person staff. As a popular getaway destination with restaurants, shops and historical landmarks that rely heavily on tourists, the small town of Prescott has been hit hard with the sudden lack of travel. Over the past few months, I’ve honed in on my decade-long experiences working within the fast-paced Los Angeles hospitality industry and have taken a big-city approach in order to keep my small-town restaurants afloat by hunkering down, bolstering takeout sales and setting my sights on outdoor dining models that require little interaction between staff and guests, among others. Fast forward to today, I’ve hired back 90 percent of my employee base, am up 5 percent from this time last year at my primarily drive-through Mexican food joint, Taco Don’s, and I currently have the support of the city as we recently debuted a beta-dining experience that allows for my restaurants to utilize more outdoor space to offset recent indoor dining restrictions in Arizona.
Someone who inspires you and why: I often look to my former boss Cedd Moses of Pouring With Heart for inspiration in hospitality. I worked for him for five years and it really shaped how I run my company, how I plan to grow, and how I like to be a leader in the industry. When I started I think he had eight venues, when I left he had 12, and now I believe he has over 30!
Favorite quote: “It’s simple, not easy.”
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: It can be the most fun job in the world, I really believe that. But you have to be excited about working on holidays and weekends, not dreading it. Most guests that walk through the doors are very excited to come in and enjoy your business. The restaurant business is fun because the guests make it fun, and so do the staff, but if you are hesitant about putting in extra hours, working weekends or holidays, then it might not be for you. If you love it, get a job with a company that has room to grow and make it known that you want to learn. Show up early, stay late, ask for more shifts. Opportunities will come your way before you know it!
What you think makes someone fabulous: I think that being in integrity with yourself is what makes you fabulous. Being true to who you are, where you came from, and where you are at is so important these days. In an age where everyone wants to appear something that they aren’t on Instagram, I think that being true and honest can make you fabulous.