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Veterans Day Free Meal Fail

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Since it's Veterans Day weekend, I'll keep this a little light on the personal finance side. Since my wife is active duty military we get a number of perks. Around Veterans Day nearly every restaurant wants to give her a free meal. It's great public relations and the promotion brings in a lot of business from the rest of family that typically will come with the veteran or military member.

We are usually in Aruba around this time of year, but with Little Man being 6 weeks old, we are taking a hiatus. So this year we can actually take advantage of some of these free meals. With that in mind, I went over to The Military Wallet which always has a list of Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts.

Looking over that list, we planned out four free meals over two days. My wife was going to be at a mall with a California Pizza Kitchen which is having a free meal and beverage on both Sunday and Monday. She was on her own, while I was going to get some work done (code for 99.9% watch football and 0.1% "work"). She not only got a free meal, but they surprised her with a free gift card for a pizza on a future visit. They told her to come back on Monday and do it again... which we will probably take them up on.

Sunday night we went to Applebee's, who have been advertising their free meal heavily. They were one of the first places I've heard to offer a free meal on Veterans Day, so they've become very popular for the promotion. There's only one Applebee's in Silicon Valley. I didn't think that it would be a problem because there are no active military bases in the area. I made one crucial and obvious mistake, forgetting the "Veterans" part of "Veterans Day." Just because there isn't a big military presence in Silicon Valley doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of veterans around... and there so many that Applebee's had to set up a special warming tent with coffee for people because the restaurant wasn't big enough for the crowd. My wife and I looked at it and said, "This isn't worth the $10 meal" and left and went to a nearby restaurant and paid full price. We wouldn't have gone out if not for the promotion, so the decision to try to save money actually ended up costing us money.

Today, we are looking to go to T.G.I Fridays for lunch as they are on the list. It may be a repeat of Applebee's, but they haven't advertised as much so maybe we'll have better results. If that doesn't work out we'll take up California Pizza Kitchen on their offer to come back for lunch and make dinner (gasp!) the old fashioned way. If Friday's does work out, we'll hit CPK for dinner.

Ordinarily we wouldn't be running around to this many restaurants, but my wife's maternity leave is almost up and it's a good opportunity to get out of the house.

Finally, if you came hear looking for a good Veterans Day story, here's one about my grandfather in-law, and how he got his Purple Heart.

Last updated on November 13, 2012.

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3 Responses to “Veterans Day Free Meal Fail”

  1. “and there so many that Applebee’s had to set up a special warming tent with coffee for people because the restaurant wasn’t big enough for the crowd. My wife and I looked at it and said, “This isn’t worth the $10 meal”

    I applaud your wife for a smart decision. Sitting outside in a tent for a couple of hours waiting for a free meal is not a good use of your time (unless you enjoy the mingling with strangers and aren’t overly hungry). Honestly, I hate to wait more than about 15 minutes (I’m not a very food-oriented person, so the caliber of restaurant doesn’t come into the equation. Spago gets the same 15 minutes that Applebees does).

    Also, I appreciate your wife’s service to our country, along with all active and retired members of the military. My late brother served 20 years in the marines and my dad served in Okinawa with the army shortly after WWII (drafted).

    • Lazy Man says:

      That’s kind of the big take-away with this article. Having done enough of the Black Friday run-around and going to Taco Bell for a free taco because there was a stolen base in the World Series, it just isn’t worth it unless you are there and there’s no real effort to get the deal.

  2. Cathie says:

    I agree with Kosmo up there. I absolutely hate waiting, and for that reason I refuse to go out for Valentine’s Day or Mothers’ Day. (Not that there is ever a free meal at those times, even more reason to not wait!) My free time is worth more than a free meal.

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