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This Kitchen's Got Soul

Jon Bon Jovi's new restaurant is dedicated to helping low-income families get a healthy meal, and it has already exceeded expectations.

Posted November 14, 2011 by Laura M. Colarusso

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Jon Bon Jovi
Rock star Jon Bon Jovi greets guests at the opening of Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, where meals are provided for the needy.
Photo by Robert Yaskovic/Agency New Jersey.

It’s 11:30 on a chilly Sunday morning, and a line is already forming outside Soul Kitchen, Jon Bon Jovi’s new restaurant in Red Bank. The spot has only been open about a month, but interest is high in the rock star’s new venture—an eatery dedicated to helping low-income families get a healthy meal.

Some hope to catch a glimpse of Bon Jovi himself; the Sayreville native has a house nearby in Middletown and often drops by to lend a hand washing dishes. Others are waiting to try dishes on the ambitious menu, such as cornmeal-crusted catfish, rainbow beet salad or roast chicken with mashed sweet potatoes. But most drop by to offer their support; customers make donations so that those who can’t pay can be fed.

“I originally came here to eat because I felt it was a really great way to go out and know your money is going to something useful for the community,” says Christina Georgas, a Brick resident who has returned to Soul Kitchen as a volunteer waitress. Wearing a T-shirt with the restaurant’s slogan, “Hope Is Delicious,” Georgas says she enjoyed her grilled salmon, but it was the atmosphere that inspired her to volunteer. “I wanted to be a part of what they’re trying to accomplish.” 

For now, Soul Kitchen, which opened October 20, serves dinner Thursday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Averaging roughly 90 customers per meal, the restaurant has attracted patrons from as far as Virginia. The turnout so far exceeded the expectations of Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, who were hoping for closer to 60 diners a day. 

Housed in a renovated car-repair shop, the restaurant feels like an upscale café, not a soup kitchen. It has a dozen black tables adorned with battery-powered candles and white linen napkins. Dark wood pantry shelves stretch 15 feet from the concrete floor to the ceiling. Modern glass chandeliers hang above the tables.

“What we’re doing is trying to empower the community to get past any kind of judgment of those who need assistance,” says Bon Jovi, whose Soul Foundation has also built some 270 homes nationwide for the needy. “We don’t need another for-profit restaurant in the world.”
 


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Comments
Housing help

I don’t know if this message will get to Jon Bon Jovi but I am in desperate need of housing. My brother who bought out my parents house is kicking me out in 3 weeks after I have been taking care of my dad who has dementia and my mom who is in ailing health as am I. I have fibromyalgia and no health insurance; my doctor bills exceed over 500/month. Please help me, I am going to pitch a tent somewhere in northern Jersey. There is no more Section 8 and I have nowhere to turn.
Thank you,

Teresa Blair
973-409-1866

Posted by: Teresa Blair, Kinnelon, NJ | Apr 17, 2012 15:43:00 PM |

AMAZING.

I absolutely love this idea. I was born and raised in a low income family. My daddy did EVERYTHING he could to make money to keep us going until he passed away in 2007. Now, my mum struggles and struggles to keep us supported. To see that at least one person cares to feed low income families who don’t have the privilege to go out and enjoy things like this is amazing. You’re great.

Posted by: Brittney Yunevich, Clarksville | Nov 27, 2012 22:21:06 PM |