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Jon Bon Jovi opens a pay-what-you-can 'Soul Kitchen'

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AP Photo/Mel Evans

(Read caption) Rock star Jon Bon Jovi sits in the Soul Kitchen restaurant in Red Bank, N.J., Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, during the opening of the restaurant, which is designed to help the hungry without the stigma of a soup kitchen. Diners pay whatever they're able to.

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Its slogan is "Where Hope is Delicious." The menu lacks any prices. A donation of $10 is appreciated for a three-course meal with mouth-watering entrees like "cornmeal crusted catfish with red beans and rice," "grilled chicken breast with homemade basil mayo and rice pilaf," or "grilled salmon with soul seasonings."

But if you can't pay a thing, that's alright, too, at The Soul Kitchen, a new restaurant with a twist just opened Oct. 19 by rock star Jon Bon Jovi and his wife in Red Bank, N.J. Patrons can wash the dishes or do community service to earn their supper.

"There's no prices on our menu, so if you want to come, and you want to make a difference, leave a $20 in the envelope on the table. If you can't afford to eat, you can bus tables, you can wait tables, you can work in the kitchen as a dishwasher or sous chef," Mr. Bon Jovi told the Associated Press. "If you don't want to volunteer with that, we'll take you to the Food Bank."

Volunteer work earns an individual a certificate that can be exchanged for a meal at The Soul Kitchen.

"If you come in and say, 'I'm hungry,' we'll feed you," Bon Jovi says. "But we're going to need you to do something. It's very important to what we're trying to achieve."

The restaurant is in a former auto body shop near the Count Basie Theater, where Bon Jovi has played many benefit concerts. In recent years his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has built 260 homes for low-income residents.

"This is not a soup kitchen," Bon Jovi insists. "You can come here with the dignity of linens and silver, and you're served a healthy, nutritious meal," some of which is grown in a garden right on the property. "This is not burgers and fries."

• For more information, visit www.jbjsoulkitchen.org/

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