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Saying Thanks One Plate At A Time

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It was another way people of the Sioux Empire were saying thank you, and it was filing up bellies, along with creating smiles.


Whether it was the Applebee’s on the east side of Sioux Falls.  


 “Its simply buying lunch and dinner for our veterans. The people who have served our community and our country,” said Chris Flesner, General Manager of Applebee’s.


Or if it was the Chili’s off of 41st Street, cooks and servers were busier than usual for a Sunday.


"Veterans always come in and say do you have any discounts or anything going on? Typically we give them a 10 percent discount for a veteran. But on Veterans Day, why not,” said Michelle Merrigan, General Manager of Chili's.


Before noon, both restaurants were packed, and expecting to serve hundreds, if not thousands of meals by the end of the day.   


For Sergeant Tom Frost, it’s a meal that has him coming back year after year to Chili’s.


"The fact that I get the privilege to serve, and honor those who have served. So I appreciate all the businesses in town that support us, and it means a lot that the kids get to come and have a meal with dad,” said Sergeant Tom Frost of the South Dakota Air National Guard.


Frost has been with the South Dakota Air National Guard for nearly 14 years. He works not only in aircraft maintenance but also as a civilian firefighter. He said Sunday’s free meal is the perfect way to say thank you.


" It makes our job a lot easier when we have backing us with all this. We appreciate it,” said Frost.


Sergeant Matt Hendreckson, also a member of the South Dakota Air National Guard has been serving nearly 15 years. His meal of choice: popcorn shrimp at Applebee’s. He said the free meal is heartwarming for him and his family. And it serves as a reminder of the support around them.  


“We like in our community and in our state is that they provide these kind of services,” said Sergeant Matt Hendreckson of the South Dakota Air National Guard.


For the restaurants, it is more than just a time to say thanks; it’s what they get in return that makes it all worthwhile.


"Telling someone thanks for serving our country, just their smile and their appreciation that we acknowledge them, its just priceless,” said Merrigan.


Other restaurants that served meals for free Sunday were Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse. Monday, places such as Texas Road House Denny’s and HyVee will be providing free meals as well.



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