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Whether it’s performing on stage or sitting down for supper, the Jonas Brothers have always been about family. So it’s no surprise the entire Jonas clan made their way to Vegas last weekend for the opening of Nellie’s Southern Kitchen, the restaurant concept helmed by Denise and Kevin Jonas, Sr.
Named after the boys’ great-grandmother, Nellie’s takes over prime real estate inside the MGM Grand, with 11,000 square-feet of true Southern Hospitality. Think: chicken and dumplins, shrimp and grits, and creamy banana pudding set amidst an open-concept dining space decked out in weathered barnwood and white shiplap cottage walls.
Jonas Sr. says that while he didn’t grow up with much — Nellie, his grandmother, was a cotton picker in North Carolina — he always came home to a warm meal and family waiting for him at the kitchen table. When it came time to opening his own restaurant, he wanted to impart the same sense of love and hospitality to his guests.
“It’s not just about food, or ratings or finances, but you’ve got to make it about the people,” Jonas Sr. tells Rolling Stone. “I ask my chef all the time, ‘What’s in the food?’ and he says, ‘Love.’ And I hope you feel that from our servers, and I definitely hope you feel it from the Jonas’.”
Of course this being a Jonas-related project, there will be music involved too. Jonas Sr. took the stage on opening night to serenade the crowd with an impromptu rendition of The Eagles’ “Desperado,” and he promises nightly live entertainment at Nellie’s, which will range from cover bands to new artists signed to his label. The Jonas Brothers are represented in the restaurant as well, with an entire wall dedicated to framed Jo Bros memorabilia.
All of the Jonas Brothers say the restaurant opening was extra special, as it marked the first time they’ve been able to have a meal together in a long time. “I think in our house we always try to sit down as a family and take that time to have a meal together,” says Nick, “and that’s one of the things that really drew us so close to each other. It was focused on talking about what happened in our day. We’re all busy and we all have our own families now, so moments like this are really special for us.”
“Our family’s connection to Las Vegas has always been strong as we’ve performed here many times over the years, and it feels very special to now have a permanent piece of our family history in the city for everyone to enjoy,” adds Joe.
Nellie’s Southern Kitchen at MGM Grand in Las Vegas comes on the heels of the restaurant’s original location, which opened in Belmont, North Carolina in 2016. Belmont is Jonas Sr.’s hometown and not far from where his grandmother Nellie grew up. Both restaurants feature a menu of “authentic Southern comfort foods” inspired by Nellie’s time-honored recipes. The Vegas location will also serve exclusive menu items like the “Southern Rolls,” which pack BBQ chicken, mac and cheese and collard greens inside a crispy fried egg roll (no, really).
And while the Belmont location continues to be a hub for residents there, Jonas Sr. says he believes the Vegas location can also be a place for community, citing a particularly impactful restaurant experience he had when he was battling colon cancer just a few years ago. “In my recovery, I couldn’t walk and I had a lot of complications, and I finally went to a restaurant and this server went out of their way to just make it a great experience,” he shares. “And I wouldn’t talk about my suffering. I mean, she could probably see that I was walking with a cane at that point. [But] what you’re able to give somebody by sharing a smile, sharing great food, encouraging them and being upbeat can impact their life in ways you really don’t understand.”
“You never know what somebody is living through,” he continues. “And they’re seated at a table and they come in and they don’t have time to tell you their story and probably don’t want to tell you their story. But what can happen is that through food and through hospitality, you can be an encouragement to them in whatever moment in life they’re in.”
The opening of Nellie’s comes on the heels of the Jonas Brothers’ five-date residency in Vegas, which kicked off before a capacity crowd inside the Dolby Live Theater at Park MGM last weekend. The brief residency ends June 11 with tickets still available for the final three shows here.