IRVINE (CBS) — They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but that won’t be the case for veterans Friday at Lucca Cafe in Irvine.

Active military or veterans will get a free lunch, no strings attached, at the restaurant, courtesy of its owners Chef Cathy and Elliott Pavlos.

“My father passed away this year, and my dad was a Korean War vet, so basically we’re doing this in his memory,” Cathy Pavlos said.

“I think that veterans in Orange County and the active military are invisible. We can’t see them so we can’t thank them. If we were down by Camp Pendleton or Oceanside we’d be constantly surrounded by military, but in Orange County we’re insulated from that.”

So the free lunch was a good way to draw the military in for a show of gratitude, Pavlos said.

Pavlos’ father, Robert L. Stellrecht was a corporal and tank commander in the Army in Korea.

On Saturday, Cathy and her husband Elliott will get a chance to thank more veterans when one of their regulars, Frank Sugihar, comes in to celebrate his 60th wedding anniversary and to show off the medal he and his Army buddies received from Congress last week.

Sugihar was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which included Japanese-American enlisted men who joined the service rather than go to an internment camp. The regiment was considered the most highly decorated in the nation’s history.

“Frank and his buddies liberated the city of Lucca in Italy (the restaurant’s namesake) — he told me that one day and that’s how I know him,” Pavlos said.Before or after lunch, Orange County’s veterans can take advantage of more free fun at Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine, which is also offering free admission to active military, veterans and their immediate families.


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