Active duty military service is a distinctive calling. It’s a life significant by commitment, difficulty and transience. Military business members may move 20 times in a 30-year career, with tiny control over where they will live. The salary isn’t what it is in the exclusive sector, and there’s also that totality business around being assigned to some not-so-friendly components of the people where they might be in harm’s way. They’ll RSVP in the an adverse to scores of crucial family events, and also maybe even miss the bear of a child. Castle won’t be able to tell your spouse, or anyone rather for that matter, around their really difficult days, due to the fact that it’s classified. Friendships frequently come through expiration dates. The ultimate sacrifice is real and also near.

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“I spent twenty years, 6 months, and four days in the air Force,” states Todd Coleman, without absent a beat.

Marsh Landing Parkway Operator Todd Coleman

Coleman knows the rewards and also challenges of armed forces life well. A former major in the U.S. Wait Force, he to be stationed in Germany throughout the Cold War when the Berlin wall came down. While serving in Guam, his unit managed the resettlement the Kurdish refugees and also repatriated the stays of U.S. Soldiers recovered from Vietnam. In 2003, he commanded a logistics squadron in Iraq.

A evil to history being made, Coleman mirrors on his year serving as, “The most humbling work of mine life,” adding, “When you’re deployed overseas, your comrades end up being your family.”

While the work was fulfilling, it came to be increasingly difficult for Coleman come uproot his wife and also four kids every few years. In 2007, he retirement after 20 years of service. “It was a really tough transition," he says.

In find of his next career, Coleman take it the advice of a friend, a neighborhood owner, who encouraged him to consider the chicken business. Coleman applied for his very own restaurant, and also was selected to open up the an initial one in Tucson, Arizona in November 2007. But after two years in Tucson, and a previous 20 approximately the world, the attract of his Florida hometown to be strong. Coleman and his family packed your bags and also headed east to open up a new Jacksonville restaurant, marsh Landing Parkway, in February 2010.

Coming native the military, adjusting come civilian work had its challenges. “I had to learn exactly how to motivate my team. In the armed forces I had method to leadership that didn’t always translate to mine restaurant,” Todd explained. “I additionally went from being a leader that hundreds to sometimes rolling up my shirt sleeves to occupational alongside my team. However it paid off immensely due to the fact that now ns really understand my business and my team inside and also out.”

Jacksonville is among the largest significant metropolitan locations with army presence, boasting six army installations, 50,000 active duty military personnel and also 3,000 retired armed forces who do the city their permanent home. And here, like plenty of other armed forces cities throughout America, sacrifice is the tie the binds.

It’s no surprise that seven of the 23 restaurants in Jacksonville are in your ar owned and operated through former organization members, including Coleman, Craig Phillips (USMC), cary Arnold, Jack Brown (USAF), Marinus Storm and also Jerry Medders (USN) and Wayne Efford (USANG). Collectively, the seven men organize an superior 100 years of army service.

Jacksonville operator pictured left to right: Jack Brown, Marinus Storm, Todd Coleman, Wayne Efford and also Craig Phillips. Not pictured: Jerry Medders and also Cary Arnold

Storm, a self-described “East coastline sailor,” spent much more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He was assigned come warships in the Mediterranean, phibìc Atlantic and also Caribbean Sea, with many of his time devoted to Cold battle naval presence activities. His navy career was filled with memorable moments, prefer assisting in the room Shuttle Challenger rescue and also recovery to work in January 1986, which had recovering a piece of debris that was an important to the accident investigation. Number of years later on in 1995, Storm served as executive, management officer and navigator onboard the USS Pioneer (MCM-9) to guide the ship through the Kiel Canal come St. Petersburg, Russia, which was en route to storage the 50th Anniversary of V.E. Day.

Butler Pointe Plaza Operator Marinus Storm (far right)

When Storm began considering a post-military career, that looked come the ar of Jacksonville, i beg your pardon his family called home due to the fact that 1998. Prefer Coleman, Storm had arisen a friendship through a neighborhood owner, who encouraged him come apply. Since becoming the franchise owner of at butler Pointe Plaza in 2004, his year in military business have offered him fine in a marine town. The is energetic with the junior ROTC program at a local high school and serves veterans indigenous the injured Warrior task on a weekly basis.

It’s experiences choose these that link Storm, Coleman and their other “First Coast” franchise owners to the ar they serve in a powerful means – and it shows. The Jacksonville restaurants have actually hosted armed forces Appreciation Day occasions throughout the years, wherein they role out the red carpet therapy for energetic duty personnel, their dependents, widows and veterans and also treat armed forces guests come a cost-free meal and entertainment. Every fall, while the ar celebrates the annual Week of Valor – a weeklong series of events to respect the contribute of Jacksonville’s energetic duty military, veterans, and also their families— the restaurant owners join forces with the Jacksonville Jaguars to serve donated meals while army guests mingle and take photos through Jaguars executives and also players.

“It’s a labor of love. We’ve been there. We recognize the sacrifice. Even if it is it’s a sandwich or a smile, we gain giving back any means we can.”

Similar outreach occurs each May throughout the PGA TOUR’s renowned THE football player Championship in ~ the pristine TPC Sawgrass course. Armed forces guests room admitted come a Patriots’ station Tent, whereby they are provided a warm reception and a free meal native a food truck during one that the most exciting occasions on the PGA Tour. That same week, the team that restaurants band together to serve meals to service members in ~ Mayport Naval terminal as one expression that gratitude. In total, the restaurants have provided away much more than 10,000 Chicken Sandwiches this year to military personnel and their families.

“It’s a labor of love,” states Coleman. “We’ve to be there. We know the sacrifice. Whether it’s a sandwich or a smile, we gain giving ago any way we can.”

Of course, the restaurant owners are not the just ones offer the military. Numerous restaurant team members across Jacksonville are also former business members. Their backgrounds assist them recognize the day-to-day lives of your guests, and they target to develop relationships v them inside the restaurants.

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“I have actually been may be to rental a number of team members with army experience, and also I depend upon them greatly to deliver much more than good food. It’s about giving honor and also respect. Probably that is why i am therefore proud when I overhear my team members quietly thanking uniformed guest for their service,” states Storm. “It reminds me of when I remained in the Navy. We strove to serve v honor, courage and also commitment.”

For the Jacksonville Operators and their teams, that’s really no too large a leap at all.