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)
Governor Chris Christie joined restaurateur Tom Colicchio, right, and an interviewer on stage at the Count Basie Theatre Monday afternoon for a discussion of the politics of combatting hunger. The four-hour afternoon program, called ‘Soul of Hunger,’ also brought together panelists from food pantries and supermarkets and featured a screening of the documentary, ‘A Place at the Table.’ (Click to enlarge)
RBR students draw their partners’ portraits during a special art session with the Community YMCA’s Holly Haines during the special speakers’ visit in Summer Slam, an RBR freshman transitional program. (Click to enlarge)
By MARIANNE KLIGMAN RBR Community Information Officer
During one day in July, rising Red Bank Regional (RBR) freshmen were running relays across the cafeteria floor, and dropping for push-ups in a mini-version of boot camp. The next period they were team-drawing a pictorial class story. Students also participated in experimentation with percussion instruments creating a short acoustical symphony. Fun turned to social awareness as they learned about environmental advocacy and the mission to help feed the less fortunate with dignity at Soul Kitchen, the Red Bank Community restaurant.
These programs were all part of a special day of guest visitors who shared their skills and knowledge with Red Bank Regional’s Summer Slam, a freshman transition program which is operated by The SOURCE, RBR’s School-based Youth Services Program.
Cases of new books await distribution at River Road Books, above. Soul Kitchen, below, will serve as a giver site. (Click to enlarge)
By DANIELLE TEPPER
Book fans know that when they fall in love with a story, their immediate reaction is to tell someone so they, too, can fall in love with it. Remember how you first heard about The Hunger Games or Fifty Shades of Grey? Word of mouth is the spark that starts the fire and, sometimes has the ability to ignite a full force blaze thats pretty hard to ignore.
Thats this concept that inspired World Book Night, a campaign designed to introduce the joy of reading to those who can’t afford or are perhaps even a little intimidated to pick up a new novel.
Launched in the United Kingdom a year ago, World Book Night is now coming to the United States, with some 5,000 towns and cities expected to give away almost half a million free books. Among those bibliophilic volunteers are River Road Books in Fair Haven and Red Banks own pay-what-you-can JBJ Soul Kitchen. More →
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.
Soul Kitchen as seen on opening day last month, hosted by Jon Bon Jovi, below. (Click to enlarge)
Lots of glitz was on display last month when the JBJ Soul Kitchen, the new pay-what-you-can-or-volunteer restaurant, opened in Red Bank last month.
It wasn’t just the star power of pop star Jon Bon Jovi, whose foundation bankrolled the operation, but the swarm of New York media and even the superchic look given to the former auto repair shop by Red Bank architect Michael Malone.
It made some people wonder: would this turn out to be a restaurant for the haves only? Would those who need what Soul Kitchen was created to provide come out, too?
A volunteer at the Soul Kitchen, Christina Georgas, tells redbankgreen that they do. A bit reluctantly, on occasion, but they’re coming in.
“The great thing is that we have that long driveway out front, and sometimes we see them hesitating,” says Georgas, who works as a server. “So we go out and tell them, ‘Please, come on in.’ And they do.”
In an article published Monday on Philly.com, the website of the Philadelphia Inquirer, food reporter Dianna Marder also reports that the concept is working.
A Rhode Island man recently posted this YouTube video, in which he praises the new JBJ Soul Kitchen on Monmouth Street in Red Bank. During his meal the night before, Jon Bon Jovi himself was in the kitchen of the pay-what-you-can restaurant washing dishes, he says.
Jon Bon Jovi gives his wife, Dorothea Bongiovi, an attagirl as she prepares a table at the opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen Wednesday afternoon. The yard outside the restaurant, below, features a vegetable and herb garden. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
With a heavy rain irrigating the vegetable garden behind him and cameras streaming the event live, pop star Jon Bon Jovi inaugurated a pay-what-you-can-or-work-it-off restaurant on Monmouth Street in Red Bank Wednesday afternoon.
Dubbed the JBJ Soul Kitchen, the eatery is “not a soup kitchen,” Bon Jovi told a tent packed with press and local officials. “We hope to empower individuals who just need a hand up, and enable some who just need to lend a hand.”
A production crew swarmed the Jon Bon Jovi-supported Soul Kitchen on Monmouth Street in Red Bank Monday morning as the pop star prepared to shoot a commercial for pain-reliever Advil that will tout the not-yet-officially-open pay-what-you-can restaurant.
Plans for an official opening of the eatery have not yet been finalized, a Soul Foundation spokeswoman tells redbankgreen. (Click to enlarge)
Pink striping down River Road in Fair Haven in celebration of Pink Week, which continues this week. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
You’ll notice the redbankgreen masthead’s looking a more on the red side than green these days. That’s because last week kicked off Pink Week, Riverview Medical Center and Red Bank RiverCenter’s annual push for breast cancer awareness, detection and treatment.
We’re not here just for supportive graphics, but on this Monday morning to keep you abreast (couldn’t help it) of what that’s all about, and other news from the end of April. Click on.
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.
Plans 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.
Through his non-profit JBJ Soul Foundation, the megapopstar musician has teamed with St. Anthony of Padua to open a “community restaurant” they call the Soul Kitchen to offer fine meals to the indigent. There are no prices posted. If you can afford to make a donation, they’ll take it. If not, then you volunteer at the restaurant to work off your fare.
Operating most Friday nights since November, the innovative eatery has gotten a “phenomenal response,” said Ed Markiewicz, who runs the church’s food pantry.