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Restaurants offer free or discounted meals to federal employees affected by the shutdown

U.S. Coast Guard. (Mate 3rd Class Jacob J. Kirk/WikiCommons)

With the government shutdown dragging on, local and national restaurants are extending a helping hand to federal employees by offering freebies and discounts.

“I have a friend who works for the Internal Revenue Service and was supposed to meet her for lunch last Friday and we hadn’t connected in a while,” said Kim Stafford, vice president of Human Resources for Atlas Franchise Management, the largest franchisee in Southern California of the Jimmy John’s sandwich brand. “When I got to her office she was gone.”

That immediately started Stafford thinking that Jimmy John’s should do something to help. “We have a list of all the agencies affected and if folks will come to our stores with an ID we will give them up to three sandwiches free if they come in with a family.” That goes for the 35 participating stores in L.A., Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Other chains helping out federal workers include Punch Bowl Social in Rancho Cucamonga, which has 14 more locations throughout the U.S. The chain is offering a 25 percent discount on games as well as food and beverages. “We understand that the government shutdown affects countless federal workers and their families in Southern California and the Inland Empire. Offering a discounted meal, beverage and games at Punch Bowl Social for federal employees is a way we can extend a small show of support to those impacted by this situation,” said Robert Thompson, founder and CEO of Punch Bowl Social.

Meanwhile, Rock & Brews reached out to TSA employees. “We are proud to operate restaurants at airports and respect the diligent, hard work of each and every TSA employee to ensure the safety of travelers,“ said restaurant founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of Kiss` in a joint video statement released this week. “They touch our lives daily, and as long as they are working without pay, the least we can do is provide them with a delicious meal to show our support.”

The restaurant will offer a choice of a free pulled pork sandwich or a Strawberry Fields salad to TSA employees with ID cards.

Chick-Fil-A in Seal Beach is reaching out to members of the Coast Guard. “Every Friday they can come in and have a free meal on us. Just show their ID,” said Matt Yokoyama, the store’s marketing and catering director. Store owner Scott Carr is a veteran of the Navy and also offers a 50 percent military discount for dine-in meals.

Smaller businesses were also pitching in to help. Hip, gourmet fast casual restaurant Tackle Box will offer a 25 percent discount at both locations in Costa Mesa and Corona del Mar.

Halal hamburger stand, the Burger Spot, in Cypress will give away free meals. “We need to take pressure off the people a little bit,” said owner Mike “Mo” Abdoun. “A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. We’re a family business and we have our struggles too. So if we can help, we would like to put a smile on their face.” His restaurant will feed the whole family free when a government employee affected by the shutdown presents an ID.

Details for these offers follow, along with some menu information for those unaffected who would just like to support restaurants that are part of the effort. Unless noted, offers will continue throughout the shutdown.

Burger Spot

Free meals for families of affected government employees who present ID. The halal restaurant offers American comfort foods such as burgers, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, chicken wings and breakfast burritos. The signature Spot Burger gets topped with Philly cheese steak, onion rings and special sauce. Closed Tuesday. 6285 Ball Road, Cypress, 714-236-5639,

Chick-Fil-A, Seal Beach

Each Friday the store will offer free meals to families of Coast Guard employees with ID from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. as long as the shutdown lasts. The offer is good at the Seal Beach location only. 12101 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, 562-430-3060,

Jimmy John’s

The restaurant is offering a free sandwich for any government employee on the list of agencies affected by the shutdown who presents ID and up to three free sandwiches per family. Popular items include The Big Italian with Italian cold cuts, olive oil and all the fixings; Hunter’s Club with roast beef, provolone, lettuce, tomato and mayo; and Turkey Tom with sliced turkey breast, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Offer available only at 35 participating locations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Macaroni Grill

As long as the shutdown lasts, Macaroni Grill will serve Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs and Spaghetti to all furloughed government workers who present ID. Offer is good from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Does not include tax or tip, not valid at airport or international locations.

Punch Bowl Social

Games will be included in the 25 percent discount deal for food and beverages offered by this restaurant to government employees who present ID. Includes happy hour, brunch and daily specials. Signature dishes include the Super Food Grain Bowl with quinoa, kale, egg and shiitake mushrooms; tacos with cocoa-dusted carnitas, chorizo or roast chicken or pork. Punch Bowl specializes in alcoholic punch cocktails such as Watermelon Polo Bowl and The King’s Cup. Need to know: ages 21 and older only after 10 p.m. 12635 N. Main St., Rancho Cucamonga, 909-341-7222,

Rock & Brews

The restaurant will offer one free item to TSA employees working without pay who present ID. Choose from Strawberry Fields salad or a pulled pork sandwich. The offer is good for one meal a day at all free-standing Rock & Brews locations. Due to security limitations, airport, arena and casino locations are excluded, but the offer will extend until the end of the shutdown at participating locations in L.A., Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Tackle Box

During the month of January, a 25 percent discount will be offered to federal workers affected by the shutdown who present ID. Menu items include Pork Katsu Burger and Classic Pot Pie in Costa Mesa and pork belly banh mi and chowder chicharron in Corona del Mar. 3321 Hyland Ave., Suite E, Costa Mesa, 714-486-3301;3029 Ocean Blvd., Corona Del Mar, 949-723-0502;


© 2019 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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