The singer alongside his wife Dorothea Hurley opened these establishments to allow people with limited food access to enjoy a free meal without being judged by anyone.
While Jon Bon Jovi is best known as the Grammy-winning artist who with his exceptional musical prowess has sold millions of records, he plays many other roles. The 57-year-old avid philanthropist believes in doing whatever he can for the community to the best of his abilities. Unlike most celebrities who limit their charitable efforts to high-profile promotions, the singer-songwriter takes it upon himself to go above and beyond to give back to his community's most needy members. Keeping this in mind, Jon Bon Jovi alongside his wife Dorothea Hurley, opened up two community restaurants to allow people with limited food access to enjoy a free meal without being judged by anyone.
In 2011, the pair opened their JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, New Jersey, to feed and enable those in need. The community restaurant reportedly has no prices on its menu, alternatively, the diners are urged to make a $20 donation which covers the cost of their meal. Even the ones who are unable to pay for their food, are warmly welcomed to enjoy this farm-to-table meal. The establishment offers customers a "Pay It Forward Program where each additional $20 donation provides meals for those who are unable to donate." Now, those who are unable to pay for the meal can simply extend their services by washing dishes in exchange for the supper.
Five years later, Jon Bon Jovi and Dorothea opened another Soul Kitchen in Toms River in New Jersey, in 2016, according to a report by Billboard. They are also soon opening a third community restaurant on the campus of Rutgers University to feed students struggling to pay for food, as reported by CBS News. "We all think it's a rite of passage," said Bon Jovi: "To study hard and eat ramen noodles. How about if it's the only thing you can afford?"
While talking about his second restaurant, the It's My Life singer said, "This location being even larger, we are going to have an even greater impact on the community of Toms River. Our mission has always been to affect positive change and address the issues of hunger and homelessness. We are expanding our mission with a network of partners and resources to meet the needs of the community of Toms River."
The JBJ Soul Kitchens have served a total of 105,893 meals to date, out of which just 54% were paid for with donations, according to the foundation's website. Despite the low amount of contribution, the singer ensures that his establishment doesn't compromise on the quality of the food. "JBJ Soul Kitchen serves a 3-course meal based on American Regional cuisine, beginning with the option of a soup or salad. Each guest also has the choice of an entrée such as a fish, meat, or vegetarian selection. The meal is finished with a freshly made dessert. Our chefs prepare many of the dishes with natural, locally sourced ingredients from our garden or the JBJ Soul Kitchen Farm," added the website.
Now, the JBJ Soul Kitchen is merely a part of the contribution that Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation's provided to families in economic despair. During an interview with CNN, he explained that his foundation's mission is to help such people who are in need, adding how he plans on doing so "one soul at a time." Furthermore, he added, "I thought 'how can we bring people together in an affordable, accessible way?" After witnessing a man sleeping all by himself during the harsh Northeast winter night, he revealed how his attention was drawn to the homeless who spend their nights in the dead of winter. "Right there it all crystallized for me. It didn't matter if you were young, old, black or white, Republican or Democrat... this was an issue that could affect anyone," he said.
Bent on resolving this issue, he has helped provide more than 500 affordable homes to those in need across 10 states through his foundation. "Most Americans live two paychecks away from problems, and I thought this is something we can do. And most importantly I didn't need the scientists to find the cure," he expressed.
"Now the question is 'do we want to open two or three or 10... or do we go really big?' Well, we will definitely see growth. The question is incremental. The key to our success is empowering the individual," he said when asked about his community restaurants' future endeavors.