Back in 2011, The Joy Bus, a local nonprofit that delivers meals to homebound cancer patients, was just getting off the ground. Founder Jennifer Carraway was delivering meals to patients during her lunch hour and worrying about the rising price of gas. She wanted to raise money to buy a van, and dreamed about someday having a dedicated Joy Bus kitchen.
Fast-forward four years and Carraway now oversees about 20 volunteers who help her take meals to a roster of cancer patients. And that kitchen? Well, it's about to become a reality.
In the upcoming months, Carraway will open The Joy Bus Diner, a restaurant that will support the nonprofit's operations. The diner will be located in North Phoenix, specifically in a strip mall just east of State Route 51 at Shea Boulevard. It will serve "simple, greasy-spoon diner food," Carraway says, and 100 percent of the profits will go to support The Joy Bus meal delivery program. The restaurant will rely on donations from local partners like Crooked Sky Farms, which already donates produce every week for the patients' meals.
Carraway's already signed a lease on the space, which used to house a Subway. But she says, "There's a lot of renovation that needs to be done before it's ready for us." Already she's started stripping the walls of the paneling and wall paper, but a hood and stove still need to be installed.
To help finance the renovations Carraway has launched a Kickstarter campaign. Pledges who donate to the cause will get rewards ranging from a Joy Bus T-shirt to a personalized panel on a wall inside the restaurant. Each wooden panel will be able to be inscribed with text in memory of or in honor of a person of the pledge's choosing.
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Carraway is also gearing up for the third annual Joy Bus Gala, which will be held on Sunday, November 8, at the Hotel Valley Ho. The event features six local chefs, each of whom will prepare a single dish for the event. Participating chefs include:
- Chuck Wiley, Hotel Valley Ho
- Gio Osso, Virtu Honest Craft
- Stephen Jones, the larder + the delta
- Tracy Dempsey, Tracy Dempsey Originals
- Bernie Kantak, Citizen Public House/The Gladly
- Colleen Murphy, Hyatt Scottsdale
Tickets to the gala, which can be purchased online, cost $119 per person and feature food and drinks including local beer and wine. There will also be a silent auction. Tickets are limited.