The JBJ Soul Kitchen began as a pilot program serving meals in 2009, assessing the patrons’ needs and response to the model, before renovating an old 1,100 square foot auto-body shop as the Kitchen’s new, permanent location. While under construction volunteers painted, landscaped and helped transform a 3 bay garage into a beautiful oasis. Neighbors offered food, furniture, dishes, their time and expertise; the Red Bank community welcomed and embraced the Soul Kitchen mission leading up to the grand opening last year on October 19, 2011.
“We are so thankful to everyone in the Red Bank community and beyond for all the support during our first official year of service,” stated Mimi Box, Director of the JBJ Soul Foundation. “It tells us that there is a population of supporters and people in need out there who believe that access to fresh, nutritious food & meals should be available to all, regardless of their economic place in our community. As we look towards the future we hope to continue to spread the mission of the JBJ Soul Foundation through programs such as JBJ Soul Kitchen and help those in need one soul at a time”.
Inspired by the old adage, “teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime” diners in need who come to the Soul Kitchen are empowered – they have the opportunity to earn a seat at the table for themselves and their families through volunteer hours at the Kitchen or other local organizations. They are served by the wait-staff in a lovely restaurant atmosphere with the dignity of having earned their meal. Those patrons who can afford to dine anywhere are rewarded with not only a delicious meal but with the knowledge that by dining out and leaving more than the suggested donation, they’ve contributed to their community.
In addition, Soul Kitchen has been able to provide more than just meals to those who dine at the restaurant; they have connected members of the community to those who are in need of help, in some cases resulting in job opportunities as it did for one gentleman who lost his job in construction last fall. He came to Soul Kitchen and volunteered to wash dishes, clean windows, and help out in any way he could. One night while eating at a community table he met and was hired by a local landlady who needed a handyman. He has since been hired by a contractor and has been working steadily for the last two months.
This spring, Soul Kitchen began a successful fundraising Guest Chef series, which brought celebrity chefs such as Mario Batali and Tom Collichio to Soul Kitchen; as well as brothers Victor and Bobby Rallo, from the local Basil T’s restaurant.
The Soul Kitchen operates as a program of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and is sustained by cash payment from customers who are able to pay the suggested donation (or even a little more).
Please visit our Photo Gallery for images of Soul Kitchen throughout its first year!
Donations to Soul Kitchen help offset the cost of providing meals to those in need. If you would like to donate to the JBJ Soul Kitchen and our mission, please click HERE