Desus & Mero, Pepsi give a year’s worth of rent to Claremont bodega owner who lost father to COVID-19

25th Critics Choice Awards - Show - Santa Monica, California, U.S., January 12, 2020 - Desus Nice and The Kid Mero present the Best Animated Feature movie award. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Desus & Mero are called The Bodega Boys for a reason.

This holiday season, the Bronx’s very own late night show duo have embarked on a campaign to help a familiar cornerstone of New York City’s small business sector — bodegas.

Teaming up with Pepsi, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero trekked back to their home borough where they met Juan, the owner of JJN Corp Deli and Grocery on Washington Avenue in Claremont, surprising him with a check to go towards year’s worth of rent for his store in a short film titled ‘The Bodega Giveback.’

The film not only addresses the 2020 challenges to Juan and his bodega, but also features his loyal and local customers who he has seen grow up in his store for the past three decades.

After Juan tragically lost his father and original shop owner earlier this year to COVID-19, the store briefly had closed down, reopening with the burden of operation felt by both himself and his son Jefferson in the recent months.

“When we gave the check to Juan to pay his rent for a year, you can see in his eyes he was just overcome with emotion and so were we,” Desus said.

“The neighborhood needs a bodega, that’s where they get everything, so they reopened,” he added, commending Juan and Jefferson for inadvertently becoming essential workers while mourning a loved one.

Mero, who found Juan’s west Bronx bodega continued that sentiment, telling what an important presence the owner had become to Washington Avenue.

“There’s a real community connection between Juan and the neighborhood…people were getting misty eyed when he closed down for a week,” Mero said.

“When you’re that entrenched in the community, it’s very real and it’s organic…it’s not like a photo-op it’s not BS,” he added in regards to the larger, citywide Pepsi mission at hand.

As part of that initiative, the brand will also be surprising local customers across all five boroughs with $100 prepaid credit cards when they go into their neighborhood bodegas until Sunday, Dec. 20.

Pepsi will also be gifting cash to bodega owners in NYC this holiday season as well.

“They’re putting their money where their mouth is,” Mero said.

Up next for the Bodega Boys is an interview with former President Barack Obama this Sunday, Dec. 13 at 11:05 p.m. on Showtime.

In a teaser trailer, Obama gave Desus & Mero his own Bronx cheer, saying it”looks like y’all could play for the Knicks.”

To get into the spirit or to shine a spotlight on your neighborhood bodega for a potential giveback, hashtag #PepsiBodega on social media.

“If it’s important to your community, give it a shoutout,” Mero said.

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