JBJ Soul Kitchen – Non-Profit Community Restaurant
When we arrived, we walked past the garden boxes that are setup in front of the restaurant. Once inside, I was thinking… “this looks like a very pricey cafe”. There were white napkins folded on the plates and interesting decor. The hostess sat us next to strangers and handed us the menu. No prices? I was confused. Was this one of those cash only $100 per person set menu type of restaurants? How stupid will I look if I ask? Maybe we should try to sneak out? I couldn't have been more wrong and I would definitely return!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
That's when I learned about how the restaurant works: It's a non-profit community restaurant where people who can afford it, pay $10 for a 3 course meal and pay it forward by buying a $10 meal for someone else. I loved the concept and glad I came. People who can't afford it can volunteer in exchange for a meal for themselves and their family. As I understand it, some people are there volunteering just to help out, and some are volunteering so they can enjoy a nice meal — but I can't tell who is who nor do I care. In any case, the service was excellent, warm, and very friendly!
I was initially expecting “Soul Food” but JBJ Soul Kitchen offers something very different. It's an “American Regional” cuisine that is good for your soul. The dishes are “made with fresh, local (and when possible) organic ingredients.” The 3 course set menu offers a starter, main, and dessert.
The food is good … though not exactly what I would call “gourmet” when compared to restaurant we went to the prior night which cost significantly more (including the tiniest cocktail I ever had). Where else can you enjoy a nice 3-course meal for $20 including tax, tip, and buy the same meal for someone in need? I don't know of any others.
For the starters we took one of each option, one cream of celery soup and a salad.
For the main dishes, we choose the catfish and the vegetarian stir-fry made with seitan (aka wheat meat/gluten). The fried filet was served over white rice and some broccoli.
The dessert offered was a fresh berry parfait. It was't a freshly baked item as per the website (which I read after I got home) but nevertheless tasty — especially with the fresh berries. Perhaps they ran out as we were there an hour before closing.
The service is on par, if not better than, with the more expensive restaurant we went to the prior night. All the volunteers in the restaurant were professional, friendly and warm.
HOPE IS DELICIOUS
Time to Pay It Forward. If you can, you pay a donation of at least $10 + something extra to buy a meal for someone else (+$10 buys the same meal for a person in need). The reviews I read mentioned they are cash only but they now also accept credit cards since they got SquareUp. If you are in the area, check it out. Keep in mind they close at 7pm…a bit early which prevented us from eating there the night before.