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Behind the Scenes at the Union: Riley Garcia

Badger Bash, March Madness watch parties, live music and more. These are just some of the events at Sett Pub. While you’re enjoying the exciting life of a Badger, there are countless people who work behind the scenes to bring you the best Wisconsin Union experience possible. We would like to introduce you to one of those people. His name is Riley Garcia, and he is the general manager of the Sett Pub. In this article, we’ll tell you more about him and how he keeps Sett Pub running smoothly.

What does your position as general manager entail?

I oversee general operations at the Sett, which includes scheduling, hiring, training and overseeing five fulltime staff members and around 80 student employees.

What led you to this position?

Quality of life. I’ve spent more than 40 years in the private sector managing restaurants, which, in that industry, you’re left with very little time for family or recreation. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my son while he was in his teen years.

How is the Sett different from other restaurants where you’ve worked?

Here, managers here have a lot more input in terms of menu items and pricing than in the private sector. We also get to be more actively involved with decision-making in regards to full-time staff and the hiring process.

What are some challenges you face in this position?

While working with students is the best part of the job, when we aren’t fully staffed, it makes busy times challenging. I think another important challenge for both myself and others that work at the Union is trying to increase student involvement. When I hear about concerns students have with policies, procedures or programming, I encourage them to get involved with the Union. For example, the Wisconsin Union Directorate offers students the chance to address these issues and engage in these processes.

What is your favorite part of working at the Sett?

The best part of working at the Sett is working with such a diverse group of students. These students come from all over the place, from various cultures and experiences. Getting to interact with that type of diversity is definitely the best part of the job. The events that occur at the Sett throughout the year are another fun part of working here. Badger Bash is great, and screening the Badger basketball runs throughout the years during March Madness has been incredible.

What is your favorite menu item at the Sett?

I’m from New Orleans, so the Catfish Sandwich is definitely my favorite item. It brings me a little taste of home.

What is something you feel people would be surprised to learn about the Sett?

I think not many people know that our burgers are fresh, never frozen and are pattied on-site.
I also believe that a lot of students don’t know about the free live music we have here on the weekends. That’s something I think the students who do come enjoy.

When he isn’t overseeing operations at the Sett, Riley spends his time woodworking, reading and enjoying the outdoors.

Learn more about the Sett by visiting union.wisc.edu/the-sett.

Author: Marissa Sugrue

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