On the heels of winning Good Morning America’s “Best Burger in America,” Houston hip-hop legend Bun B is taking his burger pop-up restaurant to Las Vegas.
From November 6 to December 3, Trill Burgers will partake in a four-week residency at both Luxor Hotel and Casino’s Public House and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Libertine Social in Vegas, where it will serve Bun B’s signature smash burgers along with specials, including a steakhouse-style burger from Trill chef Mike Pham.
The pop-up is a part of Pepsi’s Dig In program, which launched its Restaurant Royalty program in May to assist, incubate, and generate exposure and support for Black-owned restaurants and the next Black restaurant industry leaders, according to a release.
Bun B, who is more formally known as Bernard James Freeman, says the residency and partnership with the Las Vegas MGM International casinos is “practically the biggest honor any chef can have,” noting that Trill Burgers will get to showcase its food offerings, while also learning what it's like to work on a grander scale and operate a food business in “dream kitchens” in one of the biggest tourist cities in the world.
“I get to actively see what it’s like for someone else to prepare the product,” says the rapper.
As a part of the program, the casino kitchens will prepare the burgers, showing just how Trill Burgers products, including its new steakhouse burger, could be scaled and replicated at different locations. The burger “still has a combination of flavors that are meaningful to the food experience, but we don’t want you to just like or love this burger,” he says. “We want this burger to be irreplaceable, proving that we’re much better than any other burger. We want this to be comparable to the best food experiences.”
Bun B says he never would have dreamed that the company would be operating in Las Vegas within the first two years of its launch.
Trill Burgers — the brainchild of Bun B, restaurateur Andy Nguyen of Bored & Hungry, and publicist Nick Scurfield — has operated solely as a pop-up since its launch in August 2021. It’s sold its burgers at major events including music festivals like California’s Coachella, Rolling Loud in Miami, and at the first-ever “hip hop food court” at LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells festival in New York. This summer, Trill sold thousands of burgers at its two pop-ups held in Houston, where the company plans to open a brick-and-mortar sometime this year.
Bun B likens some of the experience to his music career, where the promotion of an album similarly takes a lot of investment for promotion and a hands-on approach. “I put in the same care and concern as a restauranteur, as I do with my music,” Bun B says, but when it comes to the restaurant business, “I’m an amateur. There are a million things I do not know, but I’m doing the heavy lifting and trying to get people in to try the burger.”
Bun says he plans to be on-site on Trill’s residency opening day on November 6 to welcome diners as they get their burgers.
Pepsi’s Vegas restaurant residency program has already kicked off with James Beard Award-winning chef Chef JJ Johnson of New York’s Fieldtrip, who will serve his braised oxtails with jollof rice and a host of cocktails through November 5. Following Trill Burgers’s November residency, the Dig In program will host Nashville chef Jason William’s pizza shop Slim and Husky’s and Pennsylvania’s Southern restaurant FoodChasers’ Kitchen. The program will end in February with a residency held by Los Angeles-based California-Cajun restaurant and brand Trap Kitchen, which will launch a restaurant in Houston this fall.