Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keep An Eye To Jon Bon Jovi

 I’ve always been amazed by what pride and loyalty New Jersey natives have for their home state. When New Jerseyans aren’t getting the state’s outline tattooed to their body they’re usually bragging about James Gandolfini’s acting chops,
and according to Death and Taxes’ NJ resident Matt Kiebus, Giants and Jets games are often preceded by drunken Springsteen-singing tailgate parties which start hours before kick-off.

Admittedly, for a fairly small, oft-ridiculed state, the Garden State has produced a huge number of successful people—Michael Douglas and Jon Bon Jovi for example, still claim the hearts of middle-aged women who experienced the 80′s, both in and out of New Jersey. If you ignore the cast of the “Jersey Shore,” New Jersey has arguably made more valuable cultural contributions per capita than any other northeastern state.

But of all the home-state heroes, Jon Bon Jovi has consistently given the most back to his childhood home. Last week, the “Livin’ on a Prayer” singer opened a community restaurant in Red Bank that will serve mostly organic, local food such as “cornmeal crusted catfish with red beans and rice, grilled chicken breast with homemade basil mayo and rice pilaf, and grilled salmon with soul seasonings, sweet potato mash and sauteed greens.”

But unlike most celebrity restaurants, the food at The Soul Kitchen comes without a price tag. The Kitchen asks a $10 suggested minimum for a three-course meal, but if customers can’t swing $10 they’re asked to pay by volunteering at the restaurant or somewhere else in the community.

“When I learned that one in six people in this country goes to bed hungry, I thought this was the next phase of the Foundation’s work,” JBJ told the AP, referring to his organization, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which recently built 260 homes for low-income residents.

“This is not a soup kitchen,” said JBJ, who President Barack Obama appointed to the White House Council for Community Solutions in 2010. “You can come here with the dignity of linens and silver, and you’re served a healthy, nutritious meal. This is not burgers and fries.”

Quite an evolution for a guy who made his career with an album called “Slippery When Wet.”

Maybe there’s more to this Jersey pride thing than meets the eye.