Nellie’s Southern Kitchen, a Jonas family experience, have tapped Executive Chef Mario Nichols and General Manager Michael Savage to lead operations for its newest location at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Debuting this summer, the welcoming Southern restaurant by Denise and Kevin Jonas, Sr., their sons Kevin II, Joe and Nick (the Jonas Brothers) and Franklin – in partnership with TLI Bedrock LLC, a New York City-based investment firm – will bring the charm, entertainment and cuisine of North Carolina to the Las Vegas Strip. With an atmosphere inspired by the Jonas’ love for music, the vibrant space will be a lively spot for all ages to enjoy fresh, flavorful dishes and live entertainment.
About Chef Mario Nichols
Chef Nichols developed a love for cooking from a young age, cooking fried chicken and collard greens with his family every Sunday night. Nichols’ professional culinary journey started in North Carolina manning a barbeque pit at Sweetwater Bar & Grill where he rose through the ranks to become executive chef developing original menu items, including his award-winning Shrimp and Grits.
In 2015, Chef Nichols made the next leap in his career, opening Grits N Greens in Lowell, North Carolina as executive chef and managing partner. The restaurant flourished in the five years under his leadership, and when the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, Chef Nichols provided food for more than 2,000 first responders at Grits N Greens while maintaining operations.
Chef Nichols opened his second restaurant in North Carolina in 2020—Smith’s Soul Food and Bistro—where he instituted a culture that was more than a restaurant with good music, great atmosphere, and excellent service.
Kevin Jonas, Sr., who lives in North Carolina, developed an affinity with Chef Nichols’ cooking and magnetic personality during several visits to the restaurant and felt Nichols was the ideal person to lead the future of Nellie’s Southern Kitchen. Kevin named Nichols executive chef of the original Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in Belmont in September 2021. In this role, Chef Nichols both enhanced 100-year-old recipes handed down from Kevin’s grandma Nellie, and added his own family staples to the menu … just wait for his Grit Cakes.
“When I first met the Jonas family and heard about Grandma Nellie, I immediately noticed their passion for great food, having fun and caring for others. Nellie’s Southern Kitchen reminds me of cooking with my parents and grandparents, growing up singing songs while making incredible food passed down from generation-to-generation,” Nichols says.
About General Manager Michael Savage
Savage’s passion for food service was instilled at the age of 13 working as a busboy and a dishwasher in his family’s restaurant. After graduating from St. Michael’s College, Michael spent the next 15 years with Caesars Entertainment as the opening manager of multiple restaurant concepts in Las Vegas including Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, and Café St Louis.
Savage relocated to New Orleans in 2013 to serve as general manager of Vitascope Hall, 8 Block Bar and Bywater Pool Deck at Hyatt Regency, a popular convention-style hotel. There, he implemented new ideas, menu items and oversaw multiple training operations.
The Las Vegas restaurant industry brought Savage back in 2015 as he took on the role of general manager at New York-New York’s Nine Fine Irishmen, where he delivered three years of continuous revenue growth and established the locale as a dinner and entertainment destination for visitors. In 2018, Savage was named the general manager of TENDER Steakhouse at Luxor where he was a driving force for the reorganization and reinvention of the restaurant in 2020.
Savage’s expertise from understanding the intricacies of running successful dining-and-entertainment venues, to understanding true Southern hospitality, made him the optimal candidate to lead operations for Nellie’s Southern Kitchen’s second location.
“It feels like everything I have done in my life has led me to this point to bring the heartbeat of Belmont to the Las Vegas Strip,” Savage says. “The team will live and breathe the ethos Nellie’s shared with her family, delivering amazing memories through genuine hospitality in an exciting atmosphere.”