BON JOVI FINDS NEW KITCHEN SPACE IN RB

soul-kitchenPlans for Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen will keep the bay doors for now. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen has found itself a new home in Red Bank. It just needs a thumbs-up from the borough to fire up the grill.

The mega-star and super-philanthropic Middletown resident’s non-profit, the JBJ Soul Foundation, has filed plans with the borough’s planning and zoning office to move into a former auto repair shop on Monmouth Street, just west of the train tracks.

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An architects rendering of the sign for the Soul Kitchen. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

The kitchen, which had more or less operated on a staggered schedule at St. Anthony of Padua and Lunch Break for more than a year, would be a four-day-a-week operation if approved.

The site plan will be reviewed for approval, and testimony for a change in use to a restaurant, at the board’s April 25 meeting, Planning and Zoning Director Donna Smith Barr said.

The plans call for improvements to the interior and exterior of the building, at 207 Monmouth, which is currently listed as an auto repair shop owned by Kathleen Burgee. If approved for the change in use — a restaurant is permitted in that zone — the interior will be overhauled to add a kitchen, bathrooms and enough seating to fit 22 to 40 people, depending on the demand, the application says.

The parking lot will also be repaved and the curb and sidewalk replaced, the application said.

The Soul Kitchen, started in Red Bank back in January 2010 at St. Anthony’s as a community-based, pay-what-you-can eatery, is designed to provide a meal for anybody who walks in, whether they can pay or not. A donation to pay for dinner is suggested, but if you don’t have the money, you work it off in the kitchen.

After running the kitchen on staggered Friday evenings at St. Anthony’s, the operation was moved over to Lunch Break, where it started to gain more customers and more consistency, offering two seatings on Sundays throughout the fall and winter.

And while Bon Jovi gets the load of the attention, it’s Mrs. Jovi — Dorothea — who’s the main force behind the Soul Kitchen. When he’s not on tour, Bon Jovi can be spotted washing dishes or scooping mashed potatoes, but it’s Dorothea who’s managed the day-to-day operations of the kitchen.

Sunday’s at Lunch Break are on a break, according to a voice message on the kitchen’s main line, and it says the new restaurant will “hopefully” open in May. The application says it will operate four days a week, with likely hours from 10 to 9p.

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Also on the planning board’s agenda for April 25, Sogo Sushi will present its plans for an expansion on Monmouth Street, Smith Barr said.

Plus, the Count Basie Theatre will seek approval to add an outdoor patio next to Buona Sera.