Caribbean and African flavors are hard to find on the Las Vegas Strip. But diners can visit Libertine Social in Mandalay Bay or Public House in Luxor right now to feast on chef JJ Johnson’s cinnamon-scented braised oxtails with jolof rice, five o’clock black beans and collard greens. And credit for that delicious availability goes to Pepsi and MGM Resorts.
The Pepsi Dig In Restaurant Royalty Residency initiative has brought Johnson’s food to both MGM properties through Nov. 5, after which another nationwide culinary gem will take a tour. Pepsi launched Dig In two years ago to accelerate business and awareness for Black-owned restaurants, and the residency program is a new part of a broader, more than $400 million commitment to advance the racial equality within the company.
Johnson has expanded his famous fast-casual rice bowl concept Fieldtrip from New York, so maybe he could soon find a permanent place in Vegas. In the meantime, Houston rapper Bun B’s Trill Burgers pop-up hits the Strip next, Nov. 6-Dec. 3, and then Nashville’s hip-hop pizzeria Slim & Husky will bring its food to Las Vegas.
“The Pepsi Dig In initiative combined with our company’s renowned culinary program provides the perfect platform to continue to lead with purpose,” said Tony Gladney, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion of MGM Resorts, in a press release.
“By creating exceptional customer experiences with this initiative, we are also giving talented Black-owned restaurants the opportunity to shine on the global stage.”
Other planned residencies include FoodChasers’ Kitchen in January (think shrimp and grits) and Trap Kitchen in February (get ready for a pineapple bowl filled with steak, shrimp, rice and homemade sauces).
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