Reader question: How do restaurants benefit from giving free meals on Veterans Day?

veterans day

A reader, who is a veteran, asked, “How do restaurants benefit from giving free meals on Veterans Day?”

Let me first start by saying that it is my hope and my assumption that the main reason that businesses offer free items and discounts to veterans is because they truly respect what they have done for our country and want to honor them. With that said, they do gain from supporting veterans and this post focuses on those benefits.

Employee morale

If the organization has veteran employees, one benefit of giving discounts or free food/items to veterans is that it is a way to communicate to their veteran employees that they support them. This can be a morale-booster for veteran and non-veteran employees alike.

Product/service trial

Discounts or free food/items to veterans encourages them to try a new product or service. For example, a veteran may have never tried a particular restaurant, but might because of the free promotion. That veteran may like it and come back on a regular basis after that, which means a lot of additional sales for the restaurant. Or, perhaps a veteran hasn’t been to a particular restaurant in a long time and the promotion reminds them how much they like it, so they start visiting more frequently.

Additional sales of family/friends that come along

The majority of people do not go out to eat by themselves. So, it’s most likely that a veteran going to a restaurant for a free meal or discount will bring family or friends along with them.

Very similar to offering free kids meals, the math on this works. A veteran will most likely pick a mid-range item on the menu and bring family and friends. It’s very likely that the profit from those family and friends will cover the cost of the veteran’s meal. And, the restaurant has trial (see above) from the family and friends as well as the veteran.


Media mentions are extremely valuable to business and organizations. Everywhere you look right now, there are news articles listing organizations offering promotions/free meals for veterans (Example: ABC News, The Top Veterans Day Deals and Freebies Tomorrow). And, let’s not forget about all of the social media sharing that is happening between people sharing the promotional information. So, by offering a promotion, these organizations are seeing a Return on Investment from the media mentions.

Me too/Social pressure consideration

I’ve written before about the dangers of copycat “us too” style of marketing. Again, I’m assuming that most restaurants give away free meals to veterans because they want to show their appreciation. With that said, I do think there is a lot of social pressure to do so because other restaurants are doing it and restaurants are afraid of negative publicity/pushback if they don’t do it.

So hopefully, dear reader, this didn’t kill your view of this important day. The above are just considerations. Thank you for your question and Happy Veterans Day.