The name "Bon Jovi" is instantly synonymous with massive rock hits such as "It's My Life," "Livin' on a Prayer," and "You Give Love a Bad Name." But in addition to being the frontman of one of the biggest bands on the planet, Jon Bon Jovi is a proud New Jersey native and a committed philanthropist. In fact, these days, you're just as likely to see him in the kitchen of one of his JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurants as on the stage of a massive arena.
Jon Bon Jovi founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006, with the goal of alleviating poverty and homelessness. In addition to helping to provide affordable housing, one of the standout successes of the foundation is the chain of community restaurants opened in New Jersey. The JBJ Soul Kitchen operates on a pay-what-you-can model, so diners never have to worry about being able to afford a warm and nutritious meal, served in friendly and comfortable surroundings. Over the past decade, the locations at Red Bank and Toms River have served over 151,750 meals, with the newest restaurant situated on the campus of Rutgers University - Newark, specifically aimed at students struggling with food insecurity.
Roughly half of the diners at the restaurants contribute a suggested donation to cover their meal, and many contribute an additional donation to "pay it forward." Those who are unable to pay are invited to get involved in volunteering. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, sometimes as many as 90% of patrons are in need.
Feeding the soul:
- The JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurants offer a three-course menu to diners. Many dishes are prepared with their own "Soul Seasoning," and made with local ingredients from their own garden and farm.
- On the menu in Red Bank this week - arugula salad or tomato basil soup for starters; Soul-seasoned pork loin, shrimp paella, pasta primavera, or chicken Francese for the main course, and a choice of fruit or dessert.
- In 2020, the foundation set up a food bank in Long Island that distributed over 238 tons of food in just 18 weeks.