Three-quarters of American adults say they would be more likely to choose a restaurant that participates in a charitable program that supports U.S. military personnel, veterans, and their families when dining out this Veterans Day, according to new National Restaurant Association research.

National Restaurant Association (NRA) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that nearly 10 percent of restaurants in the United States are at least half-owned by military veterans.

Veterans are majority owners of 33,864 restaurant businesses, and half-owners of 31,805 restaurant businesses, totaling nearly 65,700 restaurants total. The states with the highest proportion of veteran-owned restaurants are Montana (23.7 percent), Nevada (17.9 percent), and Arizona (17.5 percent).

“Military veterans have provided great service to our country, and we are proud to serve them,” says Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and CEO. “As cornerstones of local communities across the nation, many restaurants are giving back to veterans, military personnel, and their families by involving guests in their charitable programs on Veterans Day and beyond.

“America’s restaurants are also a stronghold of entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity, and veterans are finding both in the nearly 66,000 restaurants that are owned by former military personnel.”

The NRA and the Texas Restaurant Association recently launched the “Freedom is Sweet!” program in the state of Texas. Freedom is Sweet is a fundraising campaign to support rehabilitation efforts for military veterans from all branches of service and their families. This pilot program is expected to become a nationwide initiative through the NRA and partner state restaurant associations next year.

Texas restaurants can participate in the program in several ways, including donating a portion of sales from special menu items, offering free meals or menu items to veterans and military personnel, and collecting donations from guests. For more information, visit

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,027 American adults October 27–30 about their attitude toward restaurants’ charitable efforts around Veterans Day 2011.

Charitable Giving, Consumer Trends, News