Greens Farms Spirit Shop Sold; After 50 Years, We Toast Jack Riley

In November 1969, Jack Riley opened Greens Farms Spirit Shop in a Post Road strip mall near Turkey Hill South.

The holiday season is every liquor store’s Super Bowl. For nearly 50 years Jack has spent nearly every waking hour — including Christmas Eve — making sure his many loyal customers have all the whiskey, wine and beer they need.

There’s always something going on at Greens Farms Spirit Shop.

This year is different. Tomorrow — Saturday night — Jack will close up for the last time. The next day, he and his wife Eileen Proulx Riley — well-known too in town, for her long service with the Westport Library children’s department — head to California. Their 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law and 4 grandchildren are there.

For once, Jack won’t think about inventory, deliveries, or anything else work-related. Earlier this week, he sold his store.

After half a century as one of our town’s favorite merchants, he’s moving west for good.

That’s bad news for countless Westporters who started as customers, and became friends. But 50 years is a long time to own a business.

Particularly one as demanding — and in demand — as a liquor store.

Jack’s roots in the area are long and deep. He grew up in Fairfield. After graduating from Christ the King High School, he worked for an electrical distributor.

His father was the last of 4 generations of rye makers. In 1969 Jack and his dad — also a Sikorsky engineer and tool-and-die maker — found a great location for a liquor store. They spent that summer building it out.

Jack Riley at Greens Farms Spirit Shop, on the first day of business: November 10, 1969.

Jack had a great run. In a town in which many businesses have the longevity of fruit flies, Greens Farms Spirit — and its next door neighbor, Fortuna’s — have been not just consistent, but consistently good.

Jack’s store is well known not just for knowledgeable help, wine tastings, a wide selection at all price points, and the many young Westporters he’s hired and mentored, but for its genuine friendliness.

If “Cheers” was the bar where everyone knew your name, Greens Farms Spirit is the liquor store equivalent.

The wide aisles and square sales counter are places of constant banter. It’s not quite a country store with pot-bellied stove, but for a spirit shop it comes close.

In October 2012, the power was out all around town. But Jack Riley’s Greens Farms Spirit Shop was open.

Customers know Jack’s family well, because he talks proudly about them. His son Kevin and wife Genoa own a wine business. They have 3 boys, ages 13, 10 and 9. Jack’s other son Tim works for the Navy as a computer engineer. He and his wife Amy have a 6-year-old girl.

Both families live within 2 hours of each other, on the sparsely populated, beautiful central California coast.

Back row (from left): “Jack” Nelson Riley, Eileen Riley, Jack Riley. Front:
Finley, Westley and Barrett Riley. 

Jack and Eileen have bought 10 acres. They’ll build a new house. He’ll play a lot of golf. They’ll be bi-coastal until she leaves her job at the library.

And he’ll connect with a new set of customers, at Kevin’s tasting room. (He’ll no doubt see plenty of old ones too. That area — and those wines — are popular draws for Westporters.)

Most of all, Kevin says, “he looks forward to learning to drive a tractor, and be the cowboy he’s always dreamed of.”

The new owners will run Greens Farms Spirit Shop. Rob Pelletier — Jack’s longtime assistant manager — will still be there. The friendly, helpful fun vibe will continue.

But before they take over on Sunday, let’s raise our glasses one last time — in person, or online.

Here’s to you, Jack Riley: for 50 years, the true spirit of Greens Farms.

27 responses to “Greens Farms Spirit Shop Sold; After 50 Years, We Toast Jack Riley

  1. Thomas Orofino

    They don’t come any better then Jack!!! He will be missed by us all. Happy trails Jack, you deserve that a much much more

  2. Jack is such a great person I will surely miss him….. wishing you all the best Jack !

  3. Another wonderful article!😊thank you and do have a wonderfilled, Happy season🌈‼️

    Sent from my iPhone Bobbi


  4. Dear Jack, thank you for all that you have done . You have always been kind, knowledgeable and so helpful. Hope that you and Eileen have many happy years with your family in. California. It’s perfect. You’ll be right at home at Kevin’s tasting room. So glad that Rob bought Greens Farms Spirit.
    🍷Cheers To Jack and Eileen

  5. Congratulations Jack!
    It is unusual for two stores to have a nice and respectful relationship. If I didn’t have something I’d send customers to you and if you didn’t have a product there would be customers popping in to say, “Jack sent me!” Running out of boxes on a holiday weekend you were there to give a helping hand. You’ve always been a pleasure, you truly are wonderful retailer!
    I wish you the best,
    Cory D”Addario – Liquor Locker

  6. Wow, Jack looked like Radar from M.A.S.H. When he was young. He will be missed but it’s a well earned retirement.

  7. Jack, you will be missed. Always the contributor. My consulting company had clients in the adult beverage business and we would conduct brIanstorming sessions with folks like Jack. His openness, practicality and creativity made him a joy to work with and buy from. His, “here is what you need for Thanksgiving Dinner” were always spot on.

  8. Been a loyal customer for many years, and will continue to be when I visit. Used to see Dan Woog’s mom in there too. Good luck in Cali, my second home after Westport.

  9. Wow! I will miss him in the store and on the golf course. Always the gentleman..Congrats and cheers to the next 50 years!!

  10. Jack you were hands down our favorite store in town to go to, and I know my parents would have agreed. You are simply the best and irreplaceable. Have a fantastic retirement!

  11. Enjoy this next chapter in your life. Thanks for all you’ve done for this town. The best of health to you and your family! Prost….

  12. Dan, you nailed it. Jack Riley is the poster man for what a retailer should be–welcoming, accessible and professional. Well done, Jack. You will be missed.

  13. The end of an era but a very well-deserved break for Jack and his wife. Would love to know the name of the winery. I live in the Bay Area and it would be wonderful to see Jack in his element on the West Coast.

  14. Cheers to you, Sir, and God speed.

  15. Sidney Schnoll

    Jack has been the best. It was the first liquor store I went to when moving to Westport, and I’ve continued going there even after moving away. Jack always introduced me to great wines and single malts. You will be missed, but you trained your assistants well. Hopefully, they will continue the same friendly and knowledgeable service. The best to you in your move to CA.

  16. Jack and Eileen. You will be missed.
    You were great neighbors back when.
    Please enjoy your new adventures.
    Love Carol and Dick ❤️

  17. Chuck Greenlee

    Always helpful and friendly. He will be missed!
    Best of luck Jack!

  18. No! I was just telling someone last night how much I love Green’s Farms Spirits. I love Jack and everything about the store. I was in last week and had a great conversation with him. While I’m happy for him as he and Eileen embark on the next chapter of their lives I’m personally very sad! Best of luck Jack. You and the store are the best!

  19. Congratulations! Many thanks for all that you both have done for so many in the community. Jack and Eileen gave my son a summer job after he graduated, as they have done for countless young people. Eileen’s talents have for years helped many, many families at the Westport Library’s Children’s Department. My very best wishes Eileen and Jack. xo.

  20. Best wishes to Jack and his family on their next adventure. Great man, great family, great friend!

  21. David Harrison

    Congrats, Jack, on entering the world of retirement…so well earned.
    Best to you, Eileen and please give my best to the boys in California..
    Dave Harrison

  22. William Strittmatter

    Congratulations on retirement Jack! It’s something I highly recommend! And thanks for all of the wine recommendations and friendly chats over the past several years. You will be missed.

    For what it is worth, it turns out I know one of the new owners, Jim Boyrer, who I bought wine from for years when he was with a former employer (before I started at Greens Farms and after losing Ed Strauss and Depot Liquors). Anyway, while probably new to many Greens Farms regulars, I can highly recommend Jim as a knowledgeable, helpful and friendly wine person. Congrats to Jim for buying a wonderful business. Good Luck for a smooth transition!

  23. Jack was the best boss anyone could have! He taught me how to run a business but more importantly taught me how to be a good person and a good father! I won’t hold him responsible for me being a bad golfer.. thanks for making me a better person Jack!! I hope to fill half of the foot print you put on Westport!!! Thank you so much Jack

    • I’d also be a fool not to mention Eileen who kept our store running.. it’s true that behind any great man is a better woman!!

  24. The End of an era on Post Road East. GFS has cast a long shadow on all retail business here in Westport. Having been a friendly competitor for 25+ years, i know Jack & Eileen were (and still are) the Real Deal. JR has hired countless young boys in town, and welcomed them back for summer or holiday jobs. He’s weathered the changing tide of the landscape of the Wines & Spirits industry in CT like a Champ! I’d say he’s seen just about everything, and hope writes that book he’s talked about for years…
    “A lotta Wine Under the Bridge” could be a good title.
    Westports loss is S Cali’s gain. Best of Luck on The Left Coast!
    HAPPY TRAILS (as a Great Man said)…

  25. The story isn’t totally accurate but I love my brother and wish him the best. Raise your glasses to Jeanne & Harry Riley who started the store and provided the platform for Jack’s success. Raise your glass for Jack and his success in his retirement.