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“This is not an entitlement thing,” Bon Jovi said. “This is about empowering people because you have to earn that gift certificate.”

He and others at the restaurant want those who can afford to dine out to patronize the restaurant as well and pay what they consider market prices, or even a bit more than that, to help sustain The Soul Kitchen as a true community resource.

Bon Jovi said he is currently writing songs for his band’s next album, due out in 2013, along with another typically massive Bon Jovi tour. He said many of the songs are inspired by the current economic downturn and the struggles of everyday people to make ends meet without losing hope.

In the meantime, he and his wife plan to stay active in the restaurant, where he estimates he has worked at least once a week in recent months. The Soul Kitchen is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, and offers Sunday brunch.

How important is rolling up his sleeves and working in the restaurant to him?

“Last Friday, I was at the White House, serving on the Council for Community Solutions, got on a train, changed in the bathroom and got here in time to wash dishes Friday night,” he said. “I’m the dishwasher, for real. I can’t cook a lick.”

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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