Hamburger and fries

Americans are encouraged to pause every year on Veterans Day to thank a veteran or active military member for their service to the country; Many restaurants are also showing their appreciation by offering free items or deals for past and current members of the military for the holiday.

Always on November 11, Veterans Day lands on a Friday this year. Originally known as Armistice Day, it was a day to honor military veterans and those who died while serving, according to Britannica. The first Armistice Day was held in 1919 on the one-year anniversary of the armistice that concluded World War I and didn’t become a national holiday until 1938. The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 in order to broaden the scope of the day to include people who served during all U.S. wars.

Of course, there are many restaurants and retail shops that offer military discounts year-round, but on Veterans Day there are a few places that go above and beyond to show gratitude to these service members.

Free breakfast combo at Wendy’s

Wendy's breakfast sandwich and a drink

To celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, Wendy’s will give a free breakfast combo to veterans and active members of the U.S. military when they show their valid military ID or Veterans Advantage card. "The offer is a small gesture of gratitude for the men and women who work tirelessly to protect our country," the chain said in a press release.

Wendy’s menu features 11 breakfast combos with items like the Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant, Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, and Breakfast Baconator combo. The combos come with a sandwich, beverage, and seasoned potatoes. The offer will only be available during Wendy’s breakfast hours, so check with your local location to find out the best time to go.

Bob Evans to give free homestyle meals

Stack of pancakes with melting butter

Bob Evans will be providing veterans and active members of the military with a "comforting meal" on November 11, 2022. These current and former service members will receive a special menu that includes seven homestyle favorites and they will be able to choose one to enjoy for free.

Examples of meals eligible for the promotion include the Country Biscuit Breakfast, Buttermilk Hotcakes, Soup & Salad Combo, and Mushroom & Onion Chopped Steak Dinner Bell Plate. A beverage is not included. To receive the free meal, veterans and active duty military need to show proof of military service.

Chili’s to provide free entrée

boneless buffalo chicken wings

Veterans and active military members visiting Chili’s on November 11 will receive a free entrée that they can choose from a special menu. The special Veterans Day menu includes: Soup & Salad, Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadillas, Oldtimer with Cheese, and Boneless Wings (6 Count). To get the free entrée, veterans and active military members just need to dine in at the restaurant. Beverages are not included.

"Today and every day, we thank you, our veterans and active military members who define selfless service," reads the chain’s announcement.

Free shrimp and fries at Red Lobster

Fried shrimp dunked in cocktail sauce

When veterans, active military members, and reservists eat at Red Lobster on Veterans Day, they can receive a free entrée of Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, fries, coleslaw, and cocktail sauce, per an announcement. The half a dozen shrimp have been butterflied and lightly fried.

The Veterans Day offer is available for dine-in and to-go orders placed in the restaurant between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on November 11. To receive the free entrée, a valid military ID or proof of service must be shown.

Au Bon Pain to provide free breakfast and coffee

Cup of coffee steaming

To thank active and retired members of the military, Au Bon Pain will give them a free breakfast sandwich and a small drip coffee on Veterans Day. To receive the free items, customers must show a military ID and mention the offer at the time of purchase.

Au Bon Pain has a great variety of breakfast sandwiches, including The Good Egg (cheddar, tomatoes, avocado, spinach, and lemon aioli on baguette), Power Protein Wrap (turkey sausage, egg, cheddar, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, and herb aioli in a tortilla), or keep it simple with Egg Whites, Cheddar & Avocado. There is a limit of one sandwich and one coffee per person.

Applebee’s to give a free entrée

Chicken tenders with fries and sauce

Seven free entrees will be available for veterans and active-duty military members to pick from on Veterans Day as a thank-you from Applebee’s. A few of the choices on November 11 include the Classic Bacon Cheeseburger, Chicken Tenders Platter, 6-ounce USDA Select Top Sirloin, and Three-Cheese Chicken Penne. To redeem the offer, U.S. veterans and active-duty military simply need to show proof of military service.

According to the announcement, Applebee’s has served 10.8 million free meals to members of the military since 2008.

Free hot or iced coffee at Starbucks

Person holding out a Starbucks cup

Starbucks is expanding its Veterans Day offerings in 2022. In past years, the coffee giant offered a complimentary tall, hot coffee, but now, veterans, active service members, and their spouses can enjoy either a free hot or iced beverage, per Today. To further show their support for service members, Starbucks will also be donating $100,000 each to the "veteran-focused nonprofits" Team Red, White, and Blue and Team Rubicon. The coffee brand also donated to these same organizations last year, contributing 25 cents for every hot coffee sold, per Starbucks Stories.