Texas Roadhouse Finds a Small Way to Give Back to Our Veterans
The atmosphere at the Ammon Texas Roadhouse on November 11, 2013 was a unique mixture of appreciative respect and celebration. It was, of course, Veteran’s Day, a holiday made legendary every year at Texas Roadhouses nationwide since 2011. It’s just one way, to put it as the Roadhouse does, to “Serve Those Who Serve Our Country.”
Proclaimed “Armistice Day” by President Wilson in 1919, November 11 didn’t become a legal holiday until 1938 and wasn’t officially called “Veteran’s Day” until 1954. Originally the day was set aside to honor military veterans, not just for war-time victories but also for their selfless generosity in serving their country.
Honoring military personnel on Veteran’s Day is an important undertaking and one that is close to the heart of Fisher Duran, the managing partner of the Texas Roadhouse in Ammon. Coming from a long line of family who served in the military, Duran knows the level of dedication veterans give in service. It means a lot to be able to make Veteran’s Day at the Roadhouse a great event that employees, as well as veterans, look forward to every year. For many veterans, it’s the only time they have the opportunity to get together with military buddies they served with. For some, it’s an experience they share long distance.
Texas Roadhouse office manager Ronne Dalrymple recounts how an Iraq veteran texted a picture of himself enjoying his meal at the TRH in Ammon to his father, also a veteran, in Texas.
“He got a text back right away saying that his dad was at the Roadhouse in Texas, waiting to be seated for his Veteran’s Day celebration.”
The story of the father and son vets only hints at the wide-ranging time periods and experiences that are represented during the Veteran’s Day event.
Retired U.S. Navy Commander, Phil Poole, enjoyed dining with friends who had also served in the military, but at different times than he had. Commander Poole himself began his military career as an enlisted man in August of 1966, serving on the U.S.S. Providence and the U.S.S. Oklahoma City and even going in-country to Viet Nam. He took a few years off after getting out of the service in 1970, but decided to go back in 1982 after earning a journalism degree. He was commissioned as an officer and continued to serve until 1993 when he transferred to the Navy Reserve, where he served until he retired in July of 2006.
Commander Poole spoke of enjoying his time of service and appreciates these types of events focused on honoring vets, pointing out that there’s not many places veterans and service men and women from World War II, Korea, and the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars are all seated in the same room and, sometimes, at the same table.
“I have, on occasion, met someone from my era,” relates Commander Poole, “and, on even rarer occasions, met someone who served before me.”
Many of the veterans recognize the extraordinary opportunity the Veteran’s Day celebration offers to meet a variety of people who all share a connection with serving in the military. Jim Pletscher, a veteran who served in the Navy from June of 1964 through September of 1973, also commented on getting to know veterans whom he’d never met before.
“You sit next to them and talk to them, you hear their stories. It’s an incomparable experience because we’re all military so in one way we have similar backgrounds, but in other ways you find out the diversity of the people who are gathered there.”
Pletscher, a Lieutenant when he got out of the Navy in 1973, shared with other veterans his experience of spending five years working on nuclear and diesel submarines. Jim recounted his time stationed in Scotland and Spain, operating in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and being aboard a diesel submarine in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Viet Nam war in 1967. He enjoyed his time in the Navy, but noted that the separation from family was hard.
“My son was born while I was on patrol, so the way I found out that my wife had given birth was through a radio transmission,” Pletscher remembers. “Later, as he got older, there were such big changes in him every time I saw him.” The difficulty Jim experienced in being away from his family and not being able to watch his son grow played a large part in his decision not to re-enlist after completing his service in 1973.
The memories prompted another sentiment for Jim Pletscher that was shared widely, especially by the veterans who served during the late 60s and early 70s.
“When I went to Viet Nam in 1967 the protests were building,” Jim says. Coming back afterward wasn’t a welcoming experience, and there wasn’t much respect shown.
“So it’s nice to see the positive and upbeat atmosphere at an event like this. It’s touching to be shown appreciation for having served, and it makes you appreciate the others who served, too.”
A proper show of appreciation for men and women in military service isn’t complete without honoring Prisoners of War and Fallen Soldiers. As a tribute to those who couldn’t attend last Veteran’s Day — and every year — the Roadhouse reserves a table. It’s set aside in a central area to be visible and accessible, and displays a “Reserved” sign along with placards baring the familiar P.O.W./M.I.A. and Fallen Soldiers emblems, as well as the touching and true declaration “Never Forgotten.”
The Texas Roadhouse’s Veteran’s Day event is truly designed to cater to the veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving the country. Usually, the Roadhouse opens at 4 pm on Mondays and doesn’t typically serve lunch. For Veteran’s Day, however, they open especially for the event, serving the veterans from an extensive menu planned just for them, no strings attached. Advertized as a lunch event, TRH kept serving into the evening hours, for as long as veterans continued coming in.
The public was welcome, as well. Everyone who wanted to show appreciation and support for veterans were invited to dine during the extended hours that day. Additionally, the Roadhouse had spent the week prior to Veteran’s Day recruiting young diners to help convey thanks to the troops. Kids visiting the Ammon Texas Roadhouse were given thank you cards declaring “We ‘Heart’ Our Troops” at the top, and with ample room for a personal message where the youngsters penned notes and sketched drawings to express thanks to the men and women of the military. The thank you cards adorned the walls of the Roadhouse alongside banners and other patriotic decorations put up to honor the veterans on their day.
Nationwide, more than 180,000 guests were served at Texas Roadhouses that November day in 2013. The Roadhouse in Ammon was proud to have accommodated over 200 local veterans but, with over 8,000 veterans in Bonneville County, they’d gladly welcome more next year. The goal is to convey gratitude as there are no words and few actions that could adequately express appreciation for veterans and what they do in service of the country, sacrificing time with family and giving their lives to service even, at times, giving up their lives.
“It’s so important to recognize our veterans,” Ronne Dalrymple stated. “The small amount we give is nothing compared to what our veterans gave and continue to give.”
It’s a sentiment and sense of responsibility embraced by everyone at the Roadhouse.
“We appreciate the opportunity to serve our Veterans,” says Fisher Duran, “and look forward to doing it in the upcoming years!”