Started in light of the pandemic, Rebel Restaurant Week aimed to help UNLV Alumni who owned businesses in the Las Vegas valley. Over the last three years, the program put on by the Hospitality Alumni Chapter has evolved to support both past and present students. This year the program was held April 10 through April 16. Members of the community can bring canned goods to participating restaurants and inturn receive a discount or order off a set menu. Canned goods will be donated to the UNLV food pantry and a monetary donation will be made for every set menu sold.
Participating restaurants include: Cafe Lola, The Cask, CraftHaus, Egg Works, Egg & I, Las Vegas Brewing Company, Makers and Finders, Market Grille Cafe, O,Onigiri, Saint Honoré, Slater’s 50/50 and Tiabi Coffee & Waffle.
At restaurants accepting donations a bin will be located at the entrance for customers to place their canned goods.
“We wanted to make sure we were paying it forward in some way, so that’s where the canned good element came into place- it ended up being a win-win-win. Individuals get discounts or free things, restaurants get business and support from the UNLV community and then all canned goods are donated to the food pantry.” Shared Jenn Oshiro Rivers, President of the Hospitality Alumni Chapter.
Rebel Restaurant Week now includes 12 restaurants at 27 locations. Expanding from the initial year 2021 which included 9 restaurants at 11 locations. Some restaurants have participated multiple years since the inaugural year. CraftHaus has participated every year. Other business owners including Andy Kao of Slater’s 50/50, Scott Godino of Born and Raised, Josh Molina of Makers and Finders and Marc Suciu of the Cask plan to participate every year moving forward.
The first year of the program 1300 items were donated and last year 1100 items of food were donated. However, Oshiro Rivers shares “There’s no specific goal. Support comes in different ways. The board of directors will donate items sometimes and some alumni who operate restaurants, but don’t want to participate in the program will make a monetary donation to the food pantry.”
While the program was initially designed to support local businesses, many owners express gratitude for the opportunity to give back to the community and their alma mater.
“It makes me feel great to be able to give back to the community. Las Vegas is my home and I’m a first generation Columbian-American. I know the challenges that we face and I want to do everything I can to encourage other people that look like me- you guys can do it too.” said Molina.
By the end of the day April 12, Makers and Finders had sold over 100 menus between both locations- meaning nearly $500 was raised to be donated.
The Cask has been open two years and has participated in Rebel Restaurant Week both years.
“We’re both born and raised here, we had kids here and Vegas has been a huge part of our life, we want to always give back to the community that has given so much to us.” said Suciu
Similarly, Kao shares, “Being able to participate in an event like Rebel Restaurant Week that gives back to the community is truly an honor for us at Slater’s 50/50. Our primary goal for participating in Rebel Restaurant Week is to help drive awareness for UNLV’s Food Pantry.”
Rebel Restaurant Week is a way for many individuals to support their community and the program is here to stay.