Together and with The Power of We, we can start a revolution. One Soul at a time... ~Jon Bon Jovi *** There's a Story on every street corner, my friend. All you have to do is open your eyes... ~Richie Sambora

Service is Key...

Monday, November 7, 2011

At Bon Jovi restaurant, service is key


On a recent Thursday night, at a small restaurant with a new concept and only two weeks under its belt, customers lined up well before the doors opened for dinner.
 
The menu of "seasonal, regional American cuisine" offered rainbow beet salad, butternut squash soup, chicken in Creole sauce, pork chops with cranberry butter, cornmeal-crusted catfish, and grilled salmon with sweet potato mash.

But no prices.

Cash ($10 minimum per person, please, for a three-course meal that includes drinks and dessert) or vouchers earned through volunteer work are the only payments accepted.

Using this "community restaurant" model started in Utah, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, N.J., about 90 miles from Philadelphia, is in the vanguard of redefining how hunger can be addressed.

More than a dozen small eateries have been created nationwide using this model, though nothing like it yet in Philadelphia. "At a time when one in five families are living at or below the poverty line and one in six children in New Jersey are food insecure, this is a restaurant whose time has come," Bon Jovi, 49, said on the restaurant's Oct. 19 opening day.

Dishes are prepared by paid chefs, using organic ingredients grown on-site or provided by Whole Foods Market in Middletown, which is where the rocker lives.

Most servers (four to six per evening) are volunteers from the wealthier nearby towns. Those who cannot pay the $10 minimum can put in an hour here or in one of two nearby food pantries to earn "gift vouchers."

The Soul Kitchen, centrally located in Red Bank's hip Arts and Antiques district, is in a former auto-body shop that sparkles with glass bay doors, sunny yellow walls, black tables and chairs covered in butcher paper, and floor-to-ceiling shelves decorated with jars of honey, pickled peaches, grains, and gadgets.

'Community kitchen'

The 25-seater has become a mecca, with guests waiting up to an hour to share a table with strangers, in keeping with the "community kitchen" concept.

"The response has been even better than we could have hoped for," Bon Jovi wrote on the kitchen's website (jbjsoulkitchen.org).

So far, about 15 percent of patrons have paid with vouchers. The rest have paid in cash, which is what is needed if this restaurant is to stay afloat. Many are tourists making a side trip in the hopes of seeing Bon Jovi himself. But the musician has made a point of staying away, so as not to be disruptive.

Tony and Michelle Dragicevich, who said they retired early to travel the world running marathons and attending Bon Jovi concerts, came in from New Zealand to run in Sunday's New York City Marathon and eat at the Soul Kitchen.

Cathy Greene was driving north from South Carolina to visit family and made a point of stopping here.
The three elderly Saunders sisters, from nearby Ocean Township, said they had seen a community restaurant like this on an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful. And Pat Labunski, of Red Bank, said she heard about the kitchen from her daughter in Seattle.

As Mimi Box, executive director of the JBJ Soul Foundation, tells it, Jon Bon Jovi was performing in Philadelphia one winter and saw a homeless man huddled against a wall.

That led to a partnership with Sister Mary Scullion and Project Home in 2006. Bon Jovi calls Scullion, who serves on his foundation's board of directors, his "philanthropic mentor."

You can read the rest of the article here.

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I am and always have been a Bon Jovi fan. This blog is just my obsession taken a step further, my imagination in high gear if you will. I love to read and decided to see what would happen when I took that love of the written word and ramped it up a bit.

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