Jon Bon Jovi’s “Pay What You Can” Restaurant
Stories like this makes my day. It greatly offsets the road ragers that tailgated me on the freeway, inconsiderate nitwits who dinged my car in the parking lot then drove off, and other awesomely stupid day-to-day things people do. Singer Jon Bon Jovi is actively promoting his new project. It’s not a new album, a commercial product, nor is it a new movie. It’s a restaurant with a fundamental but revolutionary goal: feed hungry people.
The Soul Kitchen started as a Lunch Break program, ran by Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, which fed 80-120 per day. Now, one year and $250,000 fundraising dollars later, Soul Kitchen has evolved into a trendy gourmet restaurant rivaling any of its competitors in Red Bank, New Jersey. True to the intent of its inception, Soul Kitchen offers healthy and delicious dishes while preserving its patrons’ dignities.
According to their website, Soul Kitchen “serves a 3-course meal based on American Regional cuisine, starting with your choice of salad or soup, followed by a choice of a fish dish, a meat dish or a vegetarian selection. The meal is finished with a fresh baked dessert. All of the dishes are made with fresh, local (and when possible) [home-grown] organic ingredients.” There are no prices for their menu items, although a $10 donation would cover the cost of a meal. Anything additional donations would help contribute to others’ meals.
The key mission of this restaurant is to feed hungry people, while preserving their dignity by giving them nutritious gourmet food, and most importantly, the satisfaction of exchanging for a meal. The stigma of “handout” and “soup kitchen” is taken away, when the all patrons of the restaurant are required to pay for their meal, either with money, volunteering at the restaurant, or volunteering for the community.
“If you come in and say, `I’m hungry,’ we’ll feed you,” Bon Jovi said. “But we’re going to need you to do something. It’s very important to what we’re trying to achieve… This is about empowering people because you have to earn that gift certificate [to eat at the restaurant].”
Soul Kitchen’s very own dishwasher? Jon Bon Jovi. You can’t get any cooler and rock and roll than that.