Are We Slamming Jon Bon Jovi’s Brother?

Or the way a writer described his new business venture?

This column first appeared @ E-Crap in 2003

On Tuesday night, October 21, the hottest new place to open on the Jersey Shore since the first legal casino in Atlantic City some 25+ years ago (Resorts International) finally unwrapped itself. Called "Elements," it is an upscale martini bar, the likes of which are usually seen only in swanky parts of Manhattan, or Europe. It is co-owned by Matthew Bongiovi, brother of superstar rocker (and local Shore resident) Jon Bon Jovi, and Bongiovi’s friend Vincenzo Rizzo. I should be ecstatic, but I’m not. I’m rather disgusted by it, and I shouldn’t be. Matthew Bongiovi seems like a decent guy, and the place sounds pretty amazing. And frankly, the Jersey Shore needed a major infusion like this. My disgust stems from the review I read the day of the opening.

Kelly-Jane Cotter is an Asbury Park Press music writer that I regard very highly. Actually, I read her work in the Press religiously. I’m also aware that everyone can have a bad day, or a bad article. Consider this Cotter’s mulligan.

Cotter writes "Owners…(Bongiovi and Rizzo)…have been yearning to open a place like this since forever, since they were buddies at Holmdel High School." Yearning? Since forever? They are both 29 years old. One of them is named Bongiovi (Bon Jovi). The poor guy had to yearn for ten years to build a two story, upscale place on the ocean, with waterfalls, and 48 "private memberships." Does Cotter have a clue as to what yearning is all about? How about the poor stiff who has to work in these restaurants his whole life, slaving in the hot kitchen so that other Bongiovi’s can realize their dream courtesy of a family relative selling a few records. Do you think he’s "yearning" to open his "dream" restaurant (unlike Bongiovi’s "dream" place, as Cotter states), albeit one a bit smaller and lower key than Elements? Something with ten tables, perhaps, where he can put in twelve hours a day and feel good about being the boss for a change? And bringing home in a year what Bongiovi figures to bring home in a week.

There’s more. Cotter goes on to say "their savoir vivre stems, no doubt, from Bongiovi’s many years in the entertainment business." Of the six job titles she lists that Bongiovi has held, they include:

  • Production Assistant for Bon Jovi
  • Logistics Coordinator for Bon Jovi
  • Tour Manager for Bon Jovi

She also claims that Rizzo’s "experience in construction in New York" enabled them to "work through myriad technical and engineering details." Um, sure. That, and a couple million Bongiovi Bucks.

I’ll stop here. Am I jealous of this business venture? Of course. A place like Elements is everyone’s dream place. Do I want them to fail? Absolutely not. The Jersey Shore needs more places like this. Like many seashore resort towns, Sea Bright hibernates six months out of the year. Well, I should say it used to hibernate. In one evening, everything changed. This is very good for the Jersey Shore. I only wish Ms. Cotter could have been a little less affected (unless her article got her one of those 48 private memberships).

(writing exclusively for


Facebook Twitter YouTube