Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Bongiovi, part-time Middletown residents, hosted a reception for business owners who donated a portion of their receipts on June 16 to a fundraiser for the nonprofit restaurant, which the couple opened in 2011 to fight food insecurity. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Middletown resident Jon Bon Jovi, seen here at the opening of the pay-what-you-can-or-earn-your-meal JBJ Soul Kitchen in 2011, tells USA Today in an interview at the Red Bank eatery he helped create why he doesn’t wash dishes there anymore. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Newly recruited general manager Ryan Timmons outside Soul Kitchen earlier this week. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Three months after opening, Soul Kitchen, the pay-what-you-can-or-work-it-off restaurant on Red Bank’s West Side, is progresssing toward its goal of feeding the haves and have-nots in equal numbers, new manager Ryan Timmons tells redbankgreen.
About 30 percent of the restaurant’s patrons pay with vouchers earned through volunteer work at Soul Kitchen or a growing roster of other non-profits, Timmons said. The goal is a 50-50 mix among diners, and “the voucher-to-payment ratio is going up,” he said.
Meanwhile, paying customers are being generous when settling up bills via the discreet donation envelopes that servers present to them at the end of their three-course dinners, he said. The suggested donation is $10, but “very few” customers leave just that amount, he said, and instead pay more to help subsidize meals for others.