Jon Bon Jovi's charity restaurant opens in New Jersey

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 said on 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.

It started several years ago when Dorothea Bongiovi (she uses the legal spelling of her husband’s name) and Jon started helping out at a food pantry at nearby St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church. They later moved their focus to the Lunch Break program, which feeds 80 to 120 people a day, dubbing it “The Soul Kitchen.”

They brought that name with them to a former auto body shop down the street from the Count Basie Theater, where Jon and his self-titled band have played many fundraising shows for local charities.

It took a year and $250,000, but the restaurant now rivals any of its competitors in trendy Red Bank, with entrees like cornmeal crusted catfish with red beans and rice, grilled chicken breast with homemade basil mayo and rice pilaf, and grilled salmon with soul seasonings, sweet potato mash and sauteed greens, many of which were grown in the herb and vegetable garden right outside the restaurant’s doors.

Bon Jovi, who has a home in next-door Middletown, is adamant about one thing.


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  • Forwarddad

    Amazingconcept by a very generous celebrity. More celebrities should take note are you listening KimKardashisn?

    • Greed

      I think we lost the battle against Bon Jovi. But we still have most of Hollywood.

  • kellidill

    I get so many sample stuff for free its awesome. Actually it is not difficult to find them just search online for “Get Official Samples” It is the best way!

  • Nancy

    Jon Bon Jovi has been, in many ways, shapes and forms, an inspiration for three decades. Every time I get to thinking that I could not possibly love him more he blows me away again! I am planning a trip to New Jersey next summer and I will be visiting this place.
    God BLESS him and Dorothea! Heaven is missing two angels….but I hope Heaven waits for them for a very very very long time! :-)

  • Teresa

    Nice to see a celebrity giving back. Maybe Jon and Dorothea will be an inspiration to other celebrities and their families.

  • Anon

    It takes only one to lead for change and a whole communtiy to follow for the better good of mankind.

  • CINDY

    This is how it should be. God gives someone a gift. If that gift enables the person to gain financially then the person should give back to his/her brothers & sisters of the world. We are all connected. We need to take a look at our fellow man and say what can I do to make his burden lighter. You can go to church til the cows come home…you must BECOME the church. Live everyday with kindness, compassion and love for one another. Be an example, as Jon Bon Jovi..be the church. <3

  • Jenn Long

    Jon you “ROCK”. I have goosebumps reading this… he never ceases to amaze me!!!!

  • Liz

    Just another reason to love this man!

  • Karate Pants

    He’s the best thing to come out of New Jersey since…well, ever. Except for Chris Christie jokes, those are pretty good too.

  • Craig

    Wow, I’m amazed by what he and his wife are doing in that NJ neighborhood. Keep up the good work you two!

  • Templar

    I’ve been on the Bon Jovi bandwagon since day 1 and have always been floored by the good he and Dorothea have done. They also raise honeybees, because there is a world shortage of them and crops die without bees to pollinate them. Nay-sayers call that dodging taxes by claiming agriculture write offs, but Jon has never been that kind of a guy. His band gives away far too much money to charities to ever be called tax dodgers. BON JOVI FOREVER!

  • Clint

    Let’s try this with his concerts…instead of $300 floor seats

    • Forwarddad

      Seriously dude

    • Templar

      Join the fan club. The first 30 rows of seats at a Bon Jovi concert are always fan club seats. I’ve been to their concerts from Vancouver to London, Chicago, MPL/St.Paul, NYC etc and have never spent more than $150 for a ticket. Front row seats at Gateshead and the old Wembley. Besides, the prices allow the band to give back to so many. A little perspective here, please.

    • You know what?

      His concert is part of his job—and he’s welcome to put whatever price he wants on those tickets. And if you don’t like it—don’t pay to go. The fact that this restaurant is a direct result of his charitable nature should shame you and your stupid remarks.

  • kate

    Very cool concept – good for them!

  • vera

    Fantastic idea. Will definitely stop by. We need to support this.

  • bb

    I love JBJ! Good for him and Dorthea!

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