Restaurants across the country offer deals and discounts to veterans and active-duty military members each Veterans Day. It may not have been the very first national chain to give military members special deals on Veterans Day, but Applebee’s helped get the trend off the ground.
This year marks the casual dining staple’s 13th year of providing veterans and serving military personnel with a great deal.
How great is the deal? Veterans and active duty service members can eat for free on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2021. You can’t do much better than that.
What You Need to Take with You
Chances are your neighborhood Applebee’s will be busy on Veterans Day as a business committed to offering military discounts.
Nationally, the chain anticipates serving about 1 million free meals on Nov. 11. So you can make things easier on yourself and on the restaurant’s staff by bringing easy-to-identify proof of military service.
- your U.S. Uniformed Services ID card.
- the U.S. Uniformed Service retired ID card.
- your current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).
- a veterans organization membership card from groups such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.
- your DD Form 214 (the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty).
You can also bring a citation or commendation, a photograph of yourself in uniform, or just wear your uniform to the restaurant. Once the host or wait staff verify your proof of service, it’s time to choose an item from the special menu Applebee’s has put together.
What You Can Eat for Free at Applebee’s on Veterans Day
Naturally, after 13 years of building on this tradition, veteran and active-duty military members fill up the dining areas of Applebee’s locations each Veterans Day. To help deal with the large volume of customers, the restaurant now offers a special menu for the day.
The special Veterans Day menu includes only free meals, so you no longer need to find the free items within the regular menu. Of course, it’s not entirely as simple as showing ID, ordering, and eating a free meal or taking a meal to go.
Important limitations include:
- Beverages are not included with free meals, so if you’re drinking something other than water, bring some money for drinks.
- Gratuity is not included; bring some tip money to show your appreciation to the restaurant’s wait staff. If you’re accustomed to tipping based on the amount of your ticket, keep in mind what the meal would have normally cost and tip based on that amount.
- There’s a one-meal limit for each veteran or active duty military member per year.
- You can’t combine the Veterans Day offer with other promotions such as drink coupons or other percentage discounts on the entire price of your ticket.
- The Veterans Day menu can vary from location to location.
- Only military members or veterans can eat for free; members of your party who have not served should be prepared to pay full price — even family members.
- This special is usually available for dine-in patrons only. Call your local Applebee’s if you’d like to find out for sure about this part of the policy.
Knowing about these limitations and arriving prepared to deal with them will save time and make your meal more enjoyable.
Arriving at a restaurant, sitting down for a big meal and learning then that you will not be receiving the free meal you’d expected just isn’t much fun for anybody.
Keep in mind, too, that even though the vast majority of Applebee’s locations participate, it is possible the location nearest you does not offer free meals on Veterans Day. You don’t want to order your meal only to find out you’re sitting in one of the only non-participating locations in the country.
To find out for sure, call your local restaurant to confirm before arriving. And if you’re wondering where the nearest Applebee’s is to you, you can check locations here.
What Day the Offer Is Actually Available
Veterans Day falls on a Thursday this year, which is also the day the Federal Government observes the holiday (things can be different when Veterans Day falls on a weekend).
Some stores offer Veterans Day specials all weekend, or for even longer periods of time depending on their sales strategies.
This can cause confusion about when restaurants such as Applebee’s offer Veterans Day specials, especially when car dealerships and furniture stores are advertising Veterans Day sales all week.
Applebee’s makes it very clear, though: Its locations offer their annual Veterans Day special only on Veterans Day itself, Thursday, Nov. 11.
When it comes to hours of availability, Applebee’s keeps it simple: Its locations will serve free meals throughout the business day, from open to close.
Again, check your local store’s hours, and if you plan to dine late at night, check to be sure the store will serve free meals until closing since managers do have discretion over their location’s policies.
What’s on the Special Menu
Any time a restaurant brings out a special menu for a day, customers may wonder if their favorite meals will be included.
Applebee’s has not yet released its Veterans Day menu for this year. You can check the company’s website for updates or call your local store for details in the week leading up to Veterans Day.
You can also check last year’s menu to get an idea about the store’s free meals. Last year’s menu included seven entrees:
- Butcher’s Meat and Potatoes
- Oriental Chicken Salad
- Fiesta Lime Chicken
- Double Crunch Shrimp
- American Standard Burger
- Chicken Tenders Platter
- Three-Cheese Chicken Cavatappi
No, it’s not as extensive as the restaurant’s normal menu, but using a Veterans Day-specific menu allows local stores to make sure they have enough food to keep the free meals rolling out all day.
And there’s no limit on what you can buy from the normal menu while you’re dining out. If you’d like to supplement your free meal with an extra appetizer, drink, or dessert, your server will certainly work with you.
Enjoy Your Veterans Day Discounts
Veterans Day provides businesses with an awesome opportunity to thank our nation’s veterans and increase business, and it gives you the opportunity to enjoy a free meal at a restaurant like Applebee’s.
In addition to Applebee’s, other popular restaurant chains nationwide offered discounted or free meals on Veterans Day. You can also find a whole host of Veterans Day retail discounts, along with deals on attractions and events.
Whether Applebee’s is one of your favorite restaurants or you prefer something different, there is probably a Veterans Day deal to suit your preferences. Celebrate the day with your family, friends, and fellow veterans and enjoy the discounts.