Jon Bon Jovi is helping to fight hunger in New Jersey without the stigma of a soup kitchen. On Wednesday, October 19, the lead singer of rock band Bon Jovi opened The JBJ Soul Kitchen, a new charity restaurant in the borough of Red Bank that features a "pay-what-you-can" system.
Located in a former auto body shop near the Red Bank train station in central New Jersey, the diner specializes in healthy variations on classic soul food dishes. It provides gourmet-quality meals to the hungry, and in exchange, diners can either pay a suggested donation or perform volunteer work in the restaurant or in the community.
Before the grand opening ceremony, the 49-year-old rocker opened up in an interview with The Associated Press about what inspired him to open such restaurant. "With the economic downturn, one of the things I noticed was that disposable income was one of the first things that went," he explained.
"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," he continued on. "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."
As for what to expect from the restaurant, he told New York Magazine's Grub Street Blog, "Picture the coolest brasserie in your hometown, that's what this is. It's the hottest-looking restaurant in this town." He added, "We have to get rid of a few stigmas attached to the word volunteering and making a difference."