A promo video for Soul Kitchen.


Plans by Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation to open a freestanding pay-what-you can community restaurant in Red Bank sailed to approval Monday night, when the borough’s planning board all but rolled out the red carpet for the high-profile rocker’s team of engineers, attorneys and architects.

The OK clears the way for the non-profit Soul Kitchen, the community-minded project led by the pop star’s wife, Dorothea, to break ground on renovations to the three-bay former repair shop near the western end of Monmouth Street.

In a lightning-fast meeting in which the board heard three applications and gave the OK on all of them in 35 minutes, the hearing for the Soul Kitchen took all of about 10 minutes of the body’s time, mainly to go over the perfunctory process of detailing the application’s variances. (See related ‘Rubber Stamp’ articles below.)

“How’s that for a turbo hearing?” said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

The only speedbump of note was a provision at the request of neighbors stating that if the site is someday turned over to a for-profit restaurant, the new owners must come back to the planning board for approvals.

The planning board voted unanimously to allow the Soul Kitchen to operate in the space, and to overhaul it to add a kitchen, dining area, lighting and signage outside. Plans also call for improvements to the sidewalk and driveway, which will be redone in gray stone, not pavement, attorney Michael Monroe said.

“Any improvement to the site will be much improvement,” Menna said.

Monroe said work will get started ASAP.

“It’s going to start right away,” he said. “So we’ll be operating pretty quickly.”

The space’s former tenant, Volvo repairer VoVo Clinic, relocated to Route 35 North in Middletown.