Lifestyle & Human Interest

Jon Bon Jovi Opens Community Restaurant at University To Make Sure No Student Goes Hungry


Students at Rutgers University – Newark can dine for free inside a beautiful community restaurant opened by famed rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

The newest JBJ Soul Kitchen is a community dining experience that aims to feed college students who may be unable to pay for a meal.

The eatery at Rutgers – Newark opened in January and is JBJ Soul Kitchen’s first college campus location, NJBIZ reported.

The restaurant is the brainchild of Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Hurley Bongiovi, who hope to create food stability at a school where more than half the students have exceptional financial need.

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“Hope is Delicious” is written on the wall of the kitchen, which is open to both paying and non-paying customers to enjoy a beautiful three-course meal.

The kitchen does rely on paying customers to help sustain the restaurant at a cost of $12 per meal, and any extra money goes toward the cost of meals for those who cannot pay.

Students can also volunteer at the restaurant as payment.

Bongiovi, who Bon Jovi credited with coming up with the idea, called the opening “humbling and a little overwhelming.”

“Recognizing that food insecurity is a critical issue facing many college students like the students here at Rutgers Newark when Gourmet Dining came to us a year ago with the idea of opening a Soul Kitchen, we jumped at the chance,” Bongiovi said.

Rutgers–Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor said that students know eating at the restaurant “isn’t a stigma, this is an empowerment.”

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“This is a recognition of what it means to be a first-generation student,” Cantor said, “to be a lower-income student, what it means to come on an unusual path to higher education, and what it means to know, with the food in your stomach and the striving in your heart and brain, you will make a difference in the world.”

Bongiovi said that while JBJ Soul Kitchen cannot solve the issue of food insecurity entirely, it can certainly do its part to help.

“We hope to have an impact on the community, but in reality, we’re never gonna cure hunger with Soul Kitchen or help cure homelessness with bandaids,” she said.

“But these are some things we can do, and we can shine a light on these issues, because many people said to us, ‘I didn’t know college students were hungry.’”

The restaurant serves lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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