Jon Bon Jovi is giving love for his home state—and social entrepreneurship in general—a good name with the JBJ Soul Kitchen, his nonprofit restaurant in Toms River, New Jersey.
Described as a community restaurant, JBJ Soul Kitchen serves delicious three-course farm-to-table meals to both paying customers and those who can’t afford to pay. Customers can also pay for their meals by volunteering to work in the eatery—serving food, bussing tables, washing dishes and other typical restaurant tasks. (See video below.)
Bon Jovi’s restaurant made the news this week when it offered free lunch meals to furloughed government workers on Monday—a day when it’s normally closed. “Since founding the Soul Kitchen, we wanted to ensure that anyone struggling with food insecurity had a place to go,” Bon Jovi and his wife/business partner, Dorothea, said in a statement. “This Monday (Jan. 21), we will be open for lunch as a way to create a place of support and resources for furloughed federal workers, many of whom are our friends and neighbors.”
The program is a partnership with the Murphy Family Foundation, founded by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy.
Bon Jovi’s statement added that the availability of additional free meals for federal employees “will be determined by turnout, feedback and demand and will be announced at a later date.”
To generate revenue for the social-enterprise restaurant, paying customers at JBJ Soul Kitchen make a donation of $20 per meal. They can also donate an additional $20 to the Pay It Forward program to help fund a meal for someone who can’t afford to pay. The restaurant emphasizes healthy, organic and locally grown ingredients and offers an alternative to cheap but unhealthy fast food.
Soul Kitchen grows some ingredients in its own organic gardens and gets other foods from the Whole Foods Market Middletown. Whatever their financial means, customers are served by waitstaff in what Bon Jovi has described as “the coolest brasserie in your hometown” and “the hottest-looking restaurant, a place with the atmosphere of dignity for the guests.”