Jon Bon Jovi has been on everyone’s pop playlist for the past three decades. But it’s not just the music that he has given to the society; it’s his wife Dorothea Hurley and his Pay-If-You-Can Restaurant that is the real deal here. Unlike most celeb owned and run eateries, this one runs on a “trust system”, so you pay only if you can otherwise it’s on the house.
The couple kicked off two outlets of their volunteer-run Soul Kitchen in New Jersey, because what they wanted was to create a community where diners pay if they can, a model that was Dorothea’s brainchild. The soup kitchen is super special owing to the fact that it sees customers from various walk walks of life as the restaurant entertains both paying customers and those in need.
“People are seated communally because we want people here to read each other. You never know who you’re sitting next to. You don’t know if its someone in need or if its someone who’s come to pay. That’s really not what this is about. What you’re going to find is so much in common with your neighbour,” Bon Jovi says.
“Americans today are very guarded. When you’re at a restaurant, you’re kind of thinking you’re encroaching on my space, well here, there are no barriers. Everybody together. And, in turn, you strike up a conversation over food or fan, or whatever it may be. And you learn more about yourself.”
Food & Feels
Talking about the clockworks of his restaurants, Bon Jovi explains “If you haven’t dined with us before, we ask you to buy a pay it forward card, unless you are, in fact, a volunteer, in which case we give you an opportunity to volunteer either before or after your meal. There’s a trust system here. So we certainly don’t expect anyone to dine and dash.”
The artist gives a major chunk of the credit to his wife, who according to him “does all the work”. Though he does admit that the two are idealistically involved in every detail of the place – right from the color scheme to the shelving.
Apart from the unique concept, the food too has received a fair share of thought. All the raw materials that goes into making all that’s on the menu, which includes comfort food like pan-seared salmon, homemade jalapeno cornbread and spinach rice, are sourced within five miles.
“You’d never know what the purpose is here and that is the idea. That anyone would come here to dine,” Bon Jovi says. “You just get a great meal and then you’re also doing good.”
Source: People Food
Feature Image: Billboard