Red Bank, N.J. In three decades as one of the world’s biggest rock stars, Jon Bon Jovi has eaten in some of the world’s best restaurants, savoring the best food the planet has to offer.
Yet there’s no place he’d rather have dinner than The Soul Kitchen, a “pay-what-you-can” restaurant he and his wife, Dorothea, established in a former auto body shop near the Red Bank train station in central New Jersey.
The restaurant provides gourmet-quality meals to the hungry while enabling them to volunteer on community projects in return without the stigma of visiting a soup kitchen. Paying customers are encouraged to leave whatever they want in the envelopes on each table, where the menus never list a price.
The restaurant is the latest undertaking by the New Jersey rocker’s Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which has built 260 homes for low-income residents in recent years.
“With the economic downturn, one of the things I noticed was that disposable income was one of the first things that went,” Bon Jovi told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday before the restaurant’s grand opening ceremony. “Dining out, the family going out to a restaurant, mom not having to cook, dad not having to clean up — a lot of memories were made around restaurant tables.
“When I learned that one in six people in this country goes to bed hungry, I thought this was the next phase of the Foundation’s work,” he said.