Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen Foundation photoJon Bon Jovi opened his long-awaited Soul Kitchen yesterday, a pay-what-you-want restaurant in Red Bank, NJ with no prices on the menu. The  establishment will be serving gourmet style food to any hungry locals who need a good meal and who can pledge volunteer hours in return.

The Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant operates as a part of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, now in its fifth year, and follows the example of several Panera Bread cafes, that are sustained through cash payments from customers who pay what they want.

Joined by local dignitaries, individuals and partnering local non-profits, Jon thanked the Kitchen’s “friends and neighbors” who have assisted in the two-year transformation of a former auto-body shop into the new permanent location for the eatery.

The JBJ Soul Kitchen began serving meals in 2009, utilizing two different pilot locations and assessing the patrons’ needs and response to the model, before renovating the old 1,100 square foot building.

“At a time when 1 in 5 households are living at or below the poverty level, and at a time when 1 out of 6 Americans are food insecure, this is a place based on and built on community – by and for the community,” said Jon Bon Jovi at the grand opening celebration.

Diners in need who come to the Soul Kitchen are empowered by earning a seat at the table for themselves and their families through volunteer hours at the Kitchen or other local organizations. They are served nutritious culinary dishes by the wait-staff in a lovely restaurant atmosphere with the dignity of having earned their meal. Patrons who can afford to dine out are rewarded with not only a delicious meal but with the knowledge that by dining out and leaving the suggested donation in blank envelopes on the tables, they’ve contributed to their community.

In addition to the Soul Kitchen’s own organic gardens, natural food is being provided by Whole Foods Market Middletown, in partnership with their local vendors.

The JBJ Soul Kitchen is currently open from 5-7 Thursday, Friday and Saturday, located at 207 Monmouth St. in Red Bank. Their reservation line is (732) 842-0900.

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