Today is Veterans Day 2020, and there are plenty of Illinois restaurants and other businesses that are saying thank you to vets by offering up some nice specials.

To the 17.4 million veterans in the United States, and more particularly the nearly 2 million military veterans here in Illinois, we thank you for the service and sacrifice that came with putting on your uniform. You often hear the phrase "Where we would we be without you," but it carries even more weight when the topic is veterans.

Let's get to our list of Veterans Day offerings (Note: these are primarily chains, so give a call to your favorite Rockford area spot and see what they've got going on):

  • APPLEBEE'S: Vets and active duty with proof of service are entitled to a free meal on Veterans Day 2020 as part of the chain's decade-plus-long tradition. Offer is good at participating locales, and menu options may vary.
  • BUFFALO WILD WINGS: To honor those who serve, armed forces and military on Veterans Day will be offered "Wings for Heroes," a free order of 10 boneless wings and fries as thanks. Deal requires valid proof of service and is for dine-in and carry-out only.
  • CHILI'S: All veterans & active military can get a free meal on Veterans Day, Nov. 11 at participating eateries. Options are: Chicken Crispers; Margarita Grilled Chicken; Bowl of Chili or Soup & Salad; Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadillas; Just Bacon Burger; Oldtimer with Cheese; or Cajun Chicken Pasta. The offer states for "in-restaurant only," so check with your local Chili's to see if deal extends to takeout.
  • DENNY'S: Active and retired military, with valid military ID or DD214, can receive a free "Build Your Own Grand Slam" from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Veterans Day. Hours may vary by location, and the offer is posted for dine-in only.
  • DUNKIN': Participating locations are giving all service members and vets a free doughnut of their choice, no purchase necessary, on Wednesday.
  • FAMOUS DAVE'S: All day on Nov. 11, military and veterans, with ID, can receive a free Georgia Chopped Pork Sandwich plus side dish. The offer is valid at participating restaurants for dine-in, to-go and via online ordering using code VETERAN at checkout.
  • GOLDEN CORRAL: The chain's 20-year traditional tribute will look different this year as the restaurant will celebrate active duty and veterans by handing out free meal and beverage cards through Nov. 30, while supplies last. The cards then can be redeemed for a lunch or dinner Monday through Thursday through May 31.
  • IHOP: Free Red, White and Blueberry pancake combo for all veterans and active duty service personnel – 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • LITTLE CAESARS: On Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., vets and active members can order a free "Lunch Combo," which features four slices of Detroit-style DEEP!DEEP!™ Dish pizza and a 20-ounce Pepsi product. Valid ID must be shown, and only at participating locales while supplies last.
  • MCDONALD'S (all locations): Free breakfast or lunch sandwich to all veterans and active-duty personnel – all day, just show military ID.
  • OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE: Service members, plus police and first responders, get 10% off their checks all day as part of Operation Homefront Heroes Discount program.
  • OLIVE GARDEN: Veterans and active-duty military can get a free entree from a special menu.
  • RED LOBSTER: On Wednesday, Nov. 11, diners with valid military ID or proof of service will receive a free appetizer or dessert. Appetizer options include: Lobster and Langostino Pizza; Seafood-Stuffed Mushrooms; Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp; Langostino Lobster-Artichoke-and-Seafood Dip; Crab-Stuffed Shrimp Rangoon; Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail; or Mozzarella Cheesesticks. Dessert choices: Chocolate Wave; Vanilla Bean Cheesecake; Warm Apple Crostada; or Key Lime Pie.
  • RED ROBIN: The eatery this year is spreading the Veterans Day deal over two-plus weeks. Vets and active duty, who are Red Robin Royalty members, can redeem a free Tavern Double Burger with Steak Fries any time between Nov. 12 and Nov. 30 for dine-in or takeout.
  • STARBUCKS: Enjoy a free tall coffee if you’re a veteran or active-duty military member.
  • TEXAS ROADHOUSE: At Texas Roadhouse, Veterans Day 2020 has changed from previous years, due to the pandemic: “Things are different this year due to the pandemic and capacity restrictions. To celebrate Veterans Day, Texas Roadhouse will hand out dinner vouchers at our stores’ parking lots on Wednesday, November 11, from 11am – 2pm. We ask that all active, former, or retired military members please have their Military ID or proof of service when driving through to pick up their dinner voucher. Veterans and active military can redeem their dinner vouchers when they choose in-store until June of next year. Be sure to call your local Texas Roadhouse for details. We hope to see you here! We look forward to celebrating our nation’s heroes.”