Participating restaurants are honoring veterans and active duty service members by offering free meals, and there is evidence to indicate that current and former members of the military are taking them up on that offer.
As reported by WBIR-TV10, "More than a dozen restaurants are honoring veterans for Veterans Day by offering free food." Participating restaurants include Olive Garden, Arby's, Golden Corral, and Chili's.
It appears that veterans and active duty members of the military are taking advantage of the free meal deals and self-deploying to participating local restaurants.
In Savannah, Ga., for example, the parking lot of the Chili's on Abercorn Street was packed at 7:00p.m.
When I asked for a table for two, the hostess told me that it would be a ten to twenty minute wait before being seated. For parties of three of more, the wait-time doubled.
I opted to order carry-out and it was then, in the midst of a crowded bar area, that I noticed the flier about Veterans Day. It read:
Thank you for your service. Chili's is honoring our veterans and active military. To thank you for your service, choose one of the following delicious entrees--on the house.
Veterans Day flier at Chili's. Savannah, Ga. Nov. 11, 2012
Veterans and active military could choose between eight entrees, including Margarita Chicken, Classic Turkey Sandwich, and Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadilla. To get the meal for free, all current or former members of the military had to do was "show proof of military service."
I asked a bartender if the large crowd was due to the Veterans Day offer. He confirmed that was the case, and indicated that lunchtime was when the crowd was truly huge. Three-person deep crowds circled the bar.
9News quotes Derek Farley, president of restaurant PR chain DFPR, as saying, "It's good food meets goodwill. There are 24 million veterans and troops, and they all remember who feeds them for free on their day of respect."
Some restaurants will have free food offers on Monday, including California Pizza Kitchen, Denny's, and T.G.I. Friday's.
9News notes that consultant Linda Lipsky said, "With some celebrating Veterans Day on Monday, it fills up seats on what is traditionally the industry's slowest day of the week. If a vet shows up with a party of four - or more - it's a slam-dunk winner for the restaurant, even if the vet doesn't pay for anything he eats."