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Central Florida minority-owned businesses keeping athletes in NBA bubble well fed

ORLANDO, Fla. – In just a few days, the NBA regular season will resume at Walt Disney World.

All 22 teams are in Orlando where they will play out the rest of the reason at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

While the players have been isolated from the rest of the world, in what’s known as the NBA bubble, life on the inside comes with some good meals.

Several Central Florida minority-owned restaurants are sharing how they are keeping some of the world’s most famous athletes well-fed.

A league representative said the NBA is working with 10 local, minority-owned restaurants for the campus delivery program.

“Several have been onboarded in accordance with NBA-required health and safety protocols and have begun accepting orders via the NBA Campus app,” an NBA coordinator said. “We’re continuing to source additional restaurants and minority-owned vendors to provide catering services as needed for team dining experiences.”

In addition to the delivery options there are several on-site chefs providing meals for players and team staff, according to the NBA.

“Chef Shawn Loving is the general manager of the Executive Chef Kitchen onsite in Orlando. Participating NBA team culinary staff work within the Executive Chef Kitchen and provide supplementary meals for players and teams,” the NBA said. “Additionally, Chef Lex Grant operates a curated, health-conscious ‘Comfort Kitchen’ pop-up restaurant that provides breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch to players, teams and staff via the NBA Campus app.”

Owner Joshua Johnson at Seana’s Caribbean & Soul Food in West Orange County said he still can’t believe the call and visit he got last week from the NBA.

“They just came in and asked if we were interested in delivering to the bubble,” said Johnson.

Johnson said it means a lot that the NBA reached out to him - and a few other minority-owned restaurants, in the past week or so, to partner and feed players and coaches while they are here at Walt Disney World in Orlando inside the NBA bubble.

“We get to serve the NBA, like Lebron James will get to have my food, who can imagine that,” said Johnson. “No one could have saw this coming, but we’re blessed.”

Johnson said he’ll be making meals for the NBA representatives to pick up a few days a week. He says the timing is perfect. He’s a huge basketball fan who opened his restaurant only a few months ago.

“With everything going on, with covid and black businesses, it’s just great for them to reach out to these black businesses who may be struggling,” said Johnson.

This happening as the NBA has been very vocal against racism, and the words “Black Lives Matter” on the basketball courts inside the bubble.

Brian McKinney is the part-owner at 1000 Degrees Pizza in Winter Garden, his restaurant was also chosen to deliver meals.

“It’s great to partner with the league and how they’re trying to be intentional with the black lives matter movement,” said McKinney.

News 6 reached out to the NBA for a list of the minority-owned businesses. While the league said 10 businesses are working with the NBA a spokesperson provided the names of two more local chefs cooking for the teams, including Chef Shawn Loving, general manager of the Executive Chef Kitchen.

“Participating NBA team culinary staff work within the Executive Chef Kitchen and provide supplementary meals for players and teams,” according to the NBA.

Additionally, private chef and owner of Comfort Kitchen Lex Grant is providing breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch to players, teams and staff via the NBA Campus app. Her pop up restaurant offers health-conscious southern food, according to her website.


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