COVID-19 prompts some restaurants to skip Veterans Day meal deals this year

Some restaurants, including Panera Bread, are canceling their Veterans Day meal deals to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Some restaurants, including Panera Bread, are canceling their Veterans Day meal deals to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

As if the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t disrupted enough of our cherished activities and traditions, the virus is now forcing some restaurants to forego their usual Veterans Day free or discounted meals.

There are still several restaurants and restaurant chains that are moving ahead with special meal deals for veterans and active-military members on Wednesday, Nov. 11, and some are extending the deal to avoid an overly robust turnout on the national holiday itself. But others believe it’s best to err on the side of caution and skip 2020′s specials altogether to help protect against continued spread of COVID-19.

Covelli Enterprises, the franchisee of the more than two dozen Dayton-area Panera Bread cafés, is among those chains and restaurants foregoing a Veterans Day offer this year. In a release, the company pointed to its long-standing history of giving back, particularly to the country’s military and veteran organizations.

“The company has made it an annual tradition to honor all veterans and military service members with free meals at its participating restaurants," Covelli officials said. However, “This year, due to the pandemic, the company does not feel it would be responsible to run the promotion even with social distancing and capacity limitations as the increased volume of patrons would make it difficult to follow proper protocol.

ExploreVETERANS DAY SPECIALS: Which local restaurants ARE offering free meals or deals?

"We will honor military service members and veterans in 2021 when the capacity limitations are lifted, and it’s safe to have lines in our restaurants.”

The owners of Sweeney’s Seafood Bar & Grill in Centerville reached a similar conclusion.

“We talked, and given the state-mandated limited seating and uncertain times overall, we’re passing on offering anything special this year,” Sweeney’s co-owner Holley Thompson said. “The last thing we want would be to have veterans and active military folks visit us and not receive prompt service as they’ve come to expect. Hopefully by next year the entire country will again be in a very different place.”

A spokeswoman for a regional restaurant chain that has a handful of Dayton-area locations told this news outlet earlier this week that although the restaurants will be offering a free meal to veterans Wednesday, the chain did not want any publicity regarding the offer and is not promoting it in any way.

“We are attempting to not have too many people in the building at one time due to COVID-19,” she said. “Hopefully, next year, we get back to normal.”

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