When rock band Bon Jovi postponed their summer tour due to the global pandemic, frontman Jon Bon Jovi wasted no time directing his attention to those in need in his own neighborhood. Diners at his JBJ Soul Kitchen in New Jersey pay a monetary donation that covers both their meal and a meal for someone in need.
However, because of previous COVID-19 restrictions, the restaurant operated by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation was only permitted to remain open for takeout. Without its regular volunteer base, the kitchen operations survived with the help of the rock star dishwasher.
“There’s an in-need population here in New Jersey who depend on us,” Bon Jovi told CNN in April. “Hence, the All-Star Hall of Fame dishwasher is back in business.”
Bon Jovi volunteered five days a week until the restaurant entered phase two and allowed seated customers. Throughout the restaurant’s 13-week takeout period, it served over 7,800 to-go meals to individuals, families, community partners, and frontline workers.
At one time, Dorothea Bon Jovi photographed him washing dishes for social media. “Do what you can,” it was captioned.
The caption prompted him to write a song and invite fans worldwide to contribute as well.
“The songwriter in me came out, and I wrote the song ‘If You Can’t Do What You Do, You Do What You Can,'” he said. “I knew that people from all walks of life would have their stories to tell, so I invited them to write me a verse.”
Through lyrics about missed graduations, concerns, togetherness, and health, Bon Jovi has connected with and shared experiences with fans and musicians worldwide.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to stay in touch with people around the world and just let them know that I’m thinking of them,” he said. “It’s a reminder that, even if you can’t do what you do, you do what you can.”
Now that New Jersey has entered the second stage of its reopening plan, JBJ Soul Kitchen has reverted to its pay-it-forward strategy, continuing to provide delectable meals with dignity.
“Our desire is to make sure that anyone who needs a meal knows that they can come and see us,” Bon Jovi said, “and we’ll provide them with that nutritious meal.”