By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
What would you do if you had millions of dollars? Most people say they would retire, pay off their debts, their families’ debts and then travel. However, for rock star Jon Bon Jovi “retirement” is a word that never enters his mind.
It was back in 1982 when Jon — born John Francis Bongiovi Jr., in 1962, in Sayreville — recorded “Runaway,” and his name and talent first started to gain traction. His first album, “Bon Jovi” was released in January 1984, and the band became a national and international hit in the late 1980’s after they released “Slippery When Wet.”
Bon Jovi has been continually touring year after year. He once stated that when they take a break it’s only for a few weeks for him. He then starts writing, rehearsing, and planning the next world tour. It might be a year or two between tours, but the band’s actual down time is only three months.
“Jon is one of the hardest working and most dedicated
men I know,” said his proud father, John Bongiovi.
Working so hard for nearly three decades has made Jon Bon Jovi a very wealthy and famous musician. He has taken care of his family, as his brothers have been working by his side since he started his band.
He also never forgotten where he came from or those less fortunate, and is constantly dipping into his own pockets giving to many causes.
Something close to his heart is providing a warm healthy meal to those who can’t afford one. So Bon Jovi opened the JBJ Soul Foundation Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in Red Bank. His vision is to serve healthy, delicious, and when possible, organic meals.
At the Soul Kitchen, located at 207 Monmouth Street in Red Bank, there are no prices on the menu. Customers pay the minimum donation of $10, or volunteer in some way to earn a voucher meal. The Soul Kitchen is a non-profit organization that offers a three course meal. It starts with a choice of soup or salad, followed by a choice of a fish dish, a meat or vegetarian selection. It ends with a fresh baked dessert. All dishes are made with fresh and local (and, when possible, organic) ingredients.
Some very famous people have stopped in for dinner: President Bill Clinton, Chef Mario Batali, Chef Nicholas Harary, and many TV personalities and movie stars. Painted on the wall inside the Soul Kitchen in big letters is; “Hope is Delicious. All are welcome at our table. Friendship is our daily special. Happy are the hands that feed. When there is love, there is plenty. Good company whets the appetite. End the meal with a slice of happiness.”
One of the most famous items on the menu is the pasta sauce made by John Bongiovi, father of Jon, Matt and Anthony. It was family recipe that originated in the town of Sciacca, Sicily in the late 1800s by the Bongiovi family. The secret recipe has been handed down generation after generation, and papa Bongiovi is the current keeper of the “Secret of the Sauce.”
While Jon was on tour his dad would cook for his son and the band and the famous heads of state and celebrities that would visit him. It became obvious that everyone wanted the sauce bottled, so it took several years of planning and making sure that the exact taste and quality was followed to have the Bongiovi name on the jar.
Now it’s official, the Bongiovi Pasta Sauces are now sold in Shop Rite and Wegmans. The sauce comes in three different flavors; Arrabbiata (spicy), Garden Style, and Marinara. “These taste so good; I can’t believe they came out of a jar. What use to take me hours to make, now all I have to do is open a jar,” said John Bongiovi.
On September 23, the Soul Kitchen hosted a fundraiser night where they showcased the new pasta sauce of the Bongiovi family and all the funds raised went back into the operating cost of the kitchen.
Reservations are not needed at the Soul Kitchen, guests are seated on a first come, first serve basis. They are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.