Sometimes it’s in celebration — birthdays, weddings, or for no reason at all except to enjoy the company of friends. Sometimes in reflection. An occasion for observance and contemplation.
Remembrance Day has become that special occasion at the MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual restaurants in Yorkton, Prince Albert and Regina.
The Yorkton location opened three years ago and the Prince Albert and Regina locations are each just a year old, but already they’re getting involved in their communities. All Saskatchewan stores invite military veterans and active servicemen and women to receive a free meal on Remembrance Day.
“We thought it would be an important gesture to give our active servicemen and veterans a complimentary meal,” says Dave Nussbaumer, spokesperson for Original Six Steakholders, a group of six Yorkton business partners that have opened three Saskatchewan Mr Mikes Steakhouse Casual locations. “Community service is a pillar of MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual. Giving back is really important to us.”
All that servicemen and women need to do is show up at MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual on Remembrance Day in their uniform, and they get a free meal. “We don’t actively see people in uniform other than on Remembrance Day,” says Nussbaumer. “But if someone doesn’t have military identification we instructed our restaurant managers to give them a free meal anyway. We were very open with it,” he says. “I think they’ve done enough for us over their lifetimes, so we thought that providing a free meal was the least we could do to show our appreciation.”
At least 25 servicemen and women come in for the meal at the Yorkton and Regina stores, and Prince Albert is not far behind. In Yorkton, they come in the early afternoon after the Remembrance Day ceremonies.
“Everyone is wearing their poppy and all of our staff wear poppies too,” says Nussbaumer, who was in the Yorkton last year during the occasion. “We all make sure to start wearing them a few days before.”
“In Yorkton our kitchen manager is actually a former military serviceman, so he has a lot of friends still active in the military,” says Nussbaumer. For this reason, the location often gets more current military officers than veterans. “There are fewer veterans out there and they’re getting older,” he explains. The active military personnel are either reservists or have served overseas and likely experienced the casualties of war first-hand. Nussbaumer and his team wanted to honour them too. There’s a certain camaraderie noticeable during the occasion. “They all come from the same division and we put together a bunch of chairs and tables for them and they all sit together, eat a meal and appreciate each other’s company,” says Nussbaumer. “It’s about enjoying their meal in fellowship.”
When military personnel come, the manager or server always makes sure to thank the officers for their service, “from us and the country,” Nussbaumer says. The servicemen and women are always very thankful, and many can’t believe the MR MIKES staff would do this for them. “I think we live the life we live because of the actions and bravery of our veterans. Canadians could do a better job of recognizing the sacrifices our veterans made. The free lunch doesn’t cost the restaurant a lot of money at the end of the day,” says Nussbaumer. “I just think it’s an important thing for us to do for the community.”