Though many think of Jersey’s own Jon Bon Jovi as the frontman and force behind the band that bears his name, few may realize the rocker is also a restauranteur and philanthropist. Committed to helping those battling food insecurity in the Garden State, the Slippery When Wet singer opened two JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurants dedicated to feeding people in need and offering others a chance to give back.
Located in Red Bank and Tom’s River, the eateries’ motto is “community dining with dignity.” Meals include three courses for a suggested $20 donation, which covers the cost of that meal and beverages, and helps defray the cost of meals for JBJ’s in-need volunteers. If you don’t have that amount, you can wait tables, wash dishes, or provide another service to pay for your meal.
The objective of the restaurant, which serves American Regional cuisine, is to provide warm and nutritious meals to people who need them most. An appetizer course features a choice of salad or soup; entrées include fish, meat, or a vegetarian dish, and the meal concludes with a freshly made dessert. Vegan options are available. Many dishes are created with fresh, organic ingredients from either the on-site raised garden or the JBJ Soul Kitchen Farm. Renowned guest chefs such as Diane Henderiks, Joe Leone, Carla Hall, and Tom Colicchio have prepared delicious meals at the restaurants.
Everyone is welcome inside the restaurants, where the atmosphere is one of warmth, compassion, and generosity. Companies have the option to host parties at the locations, and some actually require their employees to volunteer.
The wait staff is comprised entirely of volunteers, so tips go directly to the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (formerly the Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation) which Bon Jovi founded in 2011. Customers rave about the superb food and have wonderful things to say about the friendly wait staff. Reservations are not necessary. As of this writing, 81,700 meals have been served, 51% earned meals by volunteering and 49% paid with donations. If you’d like to volunteer at one of the restaurants click here to fill out the form. Or view this pre-orientation video:
To make a tax deductible donation you can click here.
The restaurants are just the latest of Bon Jovi’s philanthropic efforts. He is the first founding ambassador for the Habitat for Humanity Ambassador program, an organization that he’s been involved with for 13 years. In 2005, he funded the building of six homes in Philadelphia. He also physically helped build them with members of his Philadelphia Soul Arena football team. The video of “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” was shot at that construction site. In addition, he donated a million dollars in 2006 to build 28 homes in Louisiana for people left homeless in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. July 2007 saw Bon Jovi committing to build 15 homes in North Philadelphia. The other members of Bon Jovi’s band are generous as well and donated a million dollars to Oprah’s Angel Network Foundation when they appeared on her television show in 2005.
The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, established in 2006, strives to prevent people from falling into poverty by creating programs and partnerships. The website states that the organization is committed to “developing, promoting, and assisting in innovative and long-lasting solutions to rebuilding pride in one’s self and one’s community – one soul at a time.” The foundation supports community projects. In addition to revenue from the JBJ Soul Kitchens and donations, the foundation sells mugs, shirts, and water bottles to raise additional funds. The foundation provides a on-staff job coach to help with resumes, interview prep, and job searches. The Foundation has helped build over 500 units of affordable and supportive housing in 10 states for thousands of people including youth and veterans
Thanks to Bon Jovi many people can go home. He gives (community) love a good name!
Visit one of the following locations:
JBJ Soul Kitchen
207 Monmouth Street
Red Bank, NJ 07701
JBJ Soul Kitchen
1769 Hooper Avenue
Toms River, NJ 08753