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Some Veterans Day chain restaurant deals off-limits to Charleston area military personnel


James Clune, stationed at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command at Joint Base Charleston, cleans the side of an aircraft at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum as part of the Trident United Way’s Day of Caring on Friday Nov. 15, 2019, in Mount Pleasant. File/Gavin McIntyre/ Staff

Several of the Veterans Day meal deals being offered by chain restaurants can’t be claimed by many active-duty military personnel in Navy Region Southeast, including Charleston’s Nuclear Power Training Unit, because they’re still barred from eating indoors at off-base restaurants.

Navy Region Southeast adopted the rule in April “to protect the health, welfare, and mission readiness of our Sailors and their families,” according to Joint Base Charleston spokesman U.S. Air Force Capt. Elias Zani.

The restriction remains in force at half of the region’s 18 installations.

“One person not following COVID-19 precautions could easily be the source for increased spread of the disease and the reason for an installation to be reverted back,” Navy Region Southeast leadership warned in October when announcing that personnel at the remaining installations would be permitted to patronize dine-in restaurants, malls, barber shops and local swimming pools.

In other words, personnel at Naval Support Facility Beaufort can take advantage of Veterans Day promotions such as the free Calabash chicken basket at Fatz Cafe or free $9.99 entrée at O'Charley's Restaurant + Bar. But their colleagues in Charleston are left out of those promotions and others because they’re limited to dine-in orders, and the sponsoring restaurants aren’t equipped with outdoor seating.

“Unfortunately, if some members of your military community are unable to dine with us in person, they won't be able to receive their free meal this year,” O’Charley’s spokeswoman Helen Stroheker says, adding that they can use a standard 10 percent military discount on to-go orders.

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Other chain restaurants have extended their deals to cover takeout.

For instance, Buffalo Wild Wings customers who provide proof of military service, including photos of themselves in uniform, can choose between eating their 10 free boneless wings on the premises and taking them away.

At independent restaurants, outdoor seating is more common. While Rodney Scott BBQ is only giving free pulled pork sandwiches to veterans and active-duty military members who eat on site between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., the Upper King Street restaurant is furnished with outdoor tables.

Many other Charleston area independent restaurants are also courting military business on Wednesday, with discounts available at Antica Napoli Pizzeria, Butcher & the Boar, Pep Rolls, Amalfi’s Italian Restaurant and Edmund’s Oast.

According to representatives of other South Carolina military installations, Navy Region Southeast is locally unique in prohibiting a segment of its personnel from dining indoors when not on the installation.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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