Outside Applebee’s on North Plainfield Road, men and women wearing embroidered hats waited with family and friends for a table on Tuesday afternoon.
“U.S. Navy Veteran,” read one.
“U.S.S. Puget Sound.” Gold thread, stitched on black.
Like dozens of other national chains on Veterans Day, the family-style restaurant is rolling out the red carpet for those who have served.
Many restaurants have free or discounted meal options for veterans and active military members today. Others offer discounts throughout the week.
At Applebee’s, veterans can eat from a selection of meals, provided they show proper identification or a photo of themselves in a uniform. IHOP is serving red, white, and blue pancakes until 7 p.m. today. For a free doughnut and coffee, head to Krispy Kreme. Chili’s is giving a free meal to anyone who has served in the US military.
About a half mile away, at the Chili’s on North Main Street, hostess Brenna Banley-Bill says she had seen about 100 veterans come in for the offer by 1:20 p.m. They’ll normally come with friends who had served, or with family, she says.
To greet the crowd outside the West Lebanon Applebee’s, a group of three men stood below a black tent. On a table under the tent, American flags weighed down fliers. A stack of pamphlets gave information on the GI Bill.
The men had been outside since 8 a.m. and were planning on remaining outside the restaurant until 4 p.m. Fifth district commander Larry Greene, a member of the American Legion Department of Vermont, said he had stood outside the establishment on four previous Veterans Day holidays.
Each year, David Churchill says, Veterans Day is “touching.”
“We say thank you to them. They don’t get it enough,” he says. He pauses. “We don’t get it enough.
Churchill is a former commander and service officer. Today he wears a black jacket adorned with a badge with the name and photo of Jeffrey S. Holmes. The Marine died in Fallujah on Thanksgiving Day in 2004. He was 20.
“All of us have served, and if we could do it again, we’d do it again. We’d all leave right now if need be,” he says, patting his heart as more Applebee’s customers walked by. “I know I would.”
Churchill notes that everybody “comes together” on Veterans Day.
Other national restaurants have similar offers — Hotcakes at Bob Evans, frozen yoghurt at Menchie’s, an All-American Burger and fries at Cheeseburger in Paradise.
WXYZ-TV in Detroit reported that 29 restaurants and 13 retailers are thanking veterans for their service with discounts and giveaways. Brad's Deals also offers an exhaustive list. Different businesses have various identification requirements.