Pepsi's New Las Vegas Dining Experience Celebrates Black-Owned Restaurants

Experiencing Las Vegas is about so much more than gambling. It's about taking in a show, going on an amusement ride, and of course, trying new food from highly-rated restaurants. Las Vegas is where celebrity chefs, from Wolfgang Puck to Emeril Lagasse, open restaurants to show off their culinary skills. While the chefs' well-known names may help to bring in diners, other restaurants lure them in with their Michelin stars, such as Momofuku and Bazaar Meat. While Las Vegas may have a large variety of restaurants serving a wide range of foods (let's not forget the infamous Vegas buffet), PepsiCo wants to shine the light on Black-owned restaurant owners and chefs through its newly launched Pepsi Dig In program.

In May, Pepsi announced its Pepsi Dig In Restaurant Royalty initiative that sought nominations of Black-owned restaurants and chefs for a chance to have a residency at Luxor's Public House and Mandalay Bay's Libertine Social where they would oversee a special menu.

Restaurant Royalty Residency chefs and dishes

On October 6, 2022, Pepsi announced more details about its Restaurant Royalty Residency program and the first Black chefs who will have their signature dishes featured in Las Vegas. According to the announcement, Chef JJ Johnson, who won a James Beard Award, will be the first featured chef and will serve up his Braised Oxtails with jollof rice at MGM Resorts International from October 9 to November 5. Johnson, who has been serving as a Pepsi Dig In ambassador, operates FIELDTRIP in New York City. Following Johnson will be Bun B, a rapper and entrepreneur from Houston on November 6, who founded Trill Burgers.

"It's an honor to usher in Pepsi Dig In's Restaurant Royalty Residency and continue to support a platform that's dedicated to increasing the visibility of the Black culinary community," said Chef JJ Johnson.

Other featured restaurants will be Slim and Husky's from Nashville, Tennessee, which was founded by Clint Gray, Derrick Moore, and EJ Reed, and FoodChasers' Kitchen from Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, with owners and chefs Maya and Kala Johnstone, as well as Trap Kitchen from Los Angeles with owners and chefs Malachi "Spank" Jenkins, Roberto "News" Smith, and Eddie "Mikey" Bynum.  This is the second year for the Pepsi Dig In program, which has sought to highlight the hurdles that many Black restaurant owners often deal with. The program also helps entrepreneurs to grow their businesses by giving them access to resources, mentors, and training, according to the announcement.