MAPUNAPUNA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Meal time at Henry Loui's Restaurant means some soldier will be surprised. Every day a table of military members eats for free.
"When they're done ordering everything, dessert, whatever they want, then we say, 'Your check has been taken care of by Henry Loui's customers and management,'" server Anne Bateman said.
The free lunch surprise started about a year ago. Small businessmen Pete Dawson and Ted Tesman began anonymously paying for service member's lunches to say thanks for serving the country.
"We just felt glad that we could do something for these guys," Dawson said.
In the last year Henry's Heroes has forked over about $5,000 to feed the troops.
"We figure that equates to about 350 lunches," Dawson said. "The reserves will probably get us close to 400 more."
"I'm really appreciative. I'm sure everybody else is who gets it," U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mike Thiel said.
He and his family ate for free on Friday..
Money for the meals comes out of the Henry's Heroes kitty. The restaurant chooses the winner.
"They want to grab your hand and shake your hand. A couple of the gals have actually cried," Bateman said.
Once a server blew Dawson's cover.
"The guy stood up and shook my hand. I thought it was a tip he had in there. It turned out it was his patch flag from his uniform," he said.
Soldiers have left thank you notes. Last week the Heroes picked up the check for a Pearl Harbor survivor.
"They were blown away. He and his son," Bateman said.
There is no saying no once a table is tabbed.
"As much as I wanted to pay my own bill, we couldn't. It was a total surprise to us," Hawaii National Guard Col. Joe Logan said.
Since Dawson and Tesman began blessing the troops, about 70 individuals and businesses have joined in to contribute to Henry's Heroes feed-the-soldiers fund.
"At some point I'd love to see it expand to buying a teacher a lunch, or buying a police officer a lunch, or a fireman," Dawson said.
If you think there's no such thing as a free lunch, think again.