If you grew up in the ’80s in New Jersey, you knew Jon Bon Jovi. His catchy music was everywhere—and still is, in certain bars, at certain hours, sung loudly with fists pumped in the air. He became associated with New Jersey the way Bruce Springsteen is associated with New Jersey.
It makes sense that Bon Jovi would open a pair of restaurants in his home state. But these are no ordinary celebrity-backed ventures. JBJ Soul Kitchen offers food to people in the community who are in need—and they are not required to pay.
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Thank you to everyone who came out for our 5th Annual Chili Cook-Off! Congratulations to our winners: 1st Place: New Jersey State Police – “Bad Medicine” 2nd Place: Lanoka Harbor First Aid – “Blaze of Glory” 3rd Place: Toms River Fire Dept., Company #1 – “The Boys on the Hill” We appreciate everyone coming out to support JBJ Soul Kitchen Toms River and all of the first responders who participated. Special thanks to Home Run Party Entertainment for providing free children’s activities and Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation Inc. for performing throughout the event. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year! #jbjsoulkitchen #tomsriver #chilicookoff #tomsriverlocal
JBJ Soul Kitchen has two locations: the Red Bank, New Jersey restaurant opened in 2011 and the Toms River, New Jersey restaurant opened in 2016. Hurricane Sandy badly affected Toms River in 2012, and the area is still recovering.
JBJ Soul Kitchen is part of Bon Jovi’s larger JBJ Soul Foundation, an organization seeking to “break the cycle of hunger, poverty, and homelessness through developing partnerships, creating programs and providing grant funding to support innovative community benefit organizations.”
The restaurants welcome both paying and in-need customers. There are no prices on the menu, but those who can pay for a meal are encouraged to donate $20, and those who can’t are encouraged to volunteer at the restaurant.
On January 21, 2019, the restaurant offered free meals to government workers and family members who were affected by the federal government shutdown.
So far, JBJ Soul Kitchen has served over 105,893 meals. All of the food is locally sourced from the restaurant’s garden. Also, did you know Jon Bon Jovi is partially of Italian descent? Maybe he’s sneaking in some secret family recipes for everyone to enjoy.
Additionally, JBJ Soul Kitchen runs an Employment and Empowerment Team Program, which connects a team of volunteer coaches with kitchen volunteers. The coaches help with resume writing, interview skills, job coaching, financial counseling, legal advice, and job placement. Oh, and they also have events such as open mic nights!