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Las Vegas holds a special place in the hearts of Nick, Kevin and Joe Jonas. It’s not only where Joe married Sophie Turner, but it’s also where the Jonas Brothers almost had a residency in April 2020 — had shows not been shut down amid the pandemic. Now, Las Vegas will be where the brothers will open the second branch of their family restaurant, Nellie’s Southern Kitchen, at MGM Grand, in the early months of 2022.
“We have incredible memories performing at MGM Grand Garden Arena, so to have Nellie’s next to it is surreal,” says Joe Jonas. “Las Vegas has always had a special place in our hearts, and now our connection to the city and its community will be stronger than ever.”
The original Nellie’s has been open in Belmont, North Carolina, since 2016 and was started by dad Kevin Jonas Sr. and mom Denise. Nellie’s namesake is the family matriarch, Kevin Sr.’s grandmother, who died in 2011. The restaurant is best known for its Southern hospitality, good cooking and, naturally, music.
While it has been said that the family that sings together stays together, what about the family that sells biscuits begging to be lathered in pimiento cheese? “Our dad’s passion for family, food and music shines through at Nellie’s,” says Kevin Jonas. “It’s a beautiful tribute to our great-grandmother’s legacy, and we know Las Vegas will love it as much as we do.”
Adds Kevin Sr., “Most of my family grew up or lived throughout their lives in Mill Villages. My grandmother started working when she was a young teenager, as well as my grandfather. She would come home and without effort make the most amazing Southern comfort food.”
The brothers haven’t been involved in the restaurant, but now with a Las Vegas opening, that is all changing.
“When we started to think about Vegas, it just seemed like the perfect time that they officially join [the business] and become a part of it. I can’t tell you how excited I am now to roll this into the broader Jones family experience,” Kevin Sr. says.
“Through the years, we’ve done a lot with MGM Resorts, especially with our sons and their touring,” continues Kevin Sr. “We’ve been here at the Grand. We’ve been at Park, we’ve been at Mandalay Bay. The properties as a whole have always been home for us and so many great memories. [When we decided to expand the restaurant], the first outreach I made was to [MGM Grand president] Michael Neubecker. We met soon after that; the rapport and the connection was really great. He had a place in mind right away.”
Nellie’s will occupy the 11,000-square-foot restaurant space, formerly home to Hecho, which sits in The District, at the inside entrance to MGM Grand’s Grand Arena.
When talking about the design, Kevin Sr. describes the arrival moment as giving a relaxed feel and a front porch vibe where all are welcome. All of the furniture, lighting and decor will be designed and manufactured by Oly Studio. The design takes cues from North Carolina’s grassy meadows, weathered barns and white shiplap cottages.
Since the Jonas name is attached, visitors can be sure to expect music. “We’re enlarging and enhancing the stage, music and multimedia. You can celebrate your 25th anniversary or you can walk in directly from the pool. It really does bring comfort to everyone. There’s a lounge area that we’re going to have surrounding the stage,” says Kevin Sr.
Nellie’s is known for true Carolina cooking such as pimiento cheese fries, a Hawg Hill pecan-smoked pulled pork sandwich, fried squash, biscuits and, of course, chicken and “dumplins.”
“My grandmother, no matter where I traveled in the world, no matter where we were as a family, when I came home, there would be a big pot of chicken dumplings. Somebody asked me the other day — you don’t actually pronounce the G it’s chicken and ‘dumplins.’ It was her staple item. When I think of the smell, when I think of the taste of the chicken and dumplings that her mother taught her to make and her mother’s mother taught her, it brings me home,” Kevin Sr. says.
“We have North Carolina vinegar-based barbecue that I love,” he continues. “My grandmother’s banana pudding. Our pecan-crusted fried green tomatoes, which is our take on fried green tomatoes, [is] unbelievable. Yes, some of the items are high calorie, but they’re warm for the heart and they’re warm for the soul.”
On the new menu, expect Las Vegas exclusives and an expanded cocktail selection.
Kevin Sr. says: “Our desire from the moment you enter is that you can leave the world behind you, be comforted, be encouraged, be treated like you’re special and leave with that. We want to bring an even higher level of it here. My grandfather said to me, when I left for school, ‘live like you’re at the bottom, even if you’re at the top.’ That was a family model for us. It doesn’t matter what success you may or may not have reached. What’s important is how you treat people. What’s important are the memories you share.”
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