At Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen, Friendship is the Daily Special
Founded in 2011 by veteran rocker and serial social entrepreneur Jon Bon Jovi, Soul Kitchen is a community restaurant located in Red Bank, N. J., where there are no reservations or prices on the menus. The concept is similar to the philosophy that fuels Shanaka Fernando’s Lentil As Anything, a chain of restaurants that allows guests to pay what they can afford or wish to contribute.
Soul Kitchen is just one of the projects within Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness for individuals and families in the United States. Soul Kitchen’s goal is to combat hunger and to develop a feeling of community by creating a restaurant where “all are welcome at the table” and where “friendship is the daily special.”
Soul Kitchen is a socially aware business that understands financial burden, so instead of employing the traditional method of compensation, customers may donate money for their meals or earn meal vouchers by volunteering their time at the restaurant. Soul Kitchen serves a three-course meal based on American Regional cuisine. After a starter of salad or soup, guests have a choice of a fish dish, a meat dish or a vegetarian selection for the main course. The meal ends with a fresh baked dessert from the kitchen, leaving customers with full stomachs and “a slice of happiness.” All of the dishes are made with fresh, local (and when possible) organic ingredients.
When seated, guests might find themselves next to someone they don’t know. Since Soul Kitchen is a community restaurant that seeks to introduce local neighbors to one another, interaction with tablemates is highly encouraged. Soul Kitchen is dedicated to eliminating hunger, building relationships and celebrating community, so whether someone is in need of help or has help to offer, there is always a place for them at the table.
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