On The Beat: 9/19

Birthday freebies

Everyone deserves some free stuff

By Jim Bucher

Why does it seem when you were a kid that birthdays were a big deal? Parties with your friends, games, pop and cake, plus money and cards from relatives.

Ah, those were the days…

Now I, personally, don’t know if it’s because I don’t want to be reminded of how old I am, but the annual day doesn’t get me as excited as it used to.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have another year of relative good health and prosperity—just not the same.

Also, it was a treat to have dinner at Bill Knapp’s. Remember those? Where you’d receive your age off on the final bill, and a delicious chocolate cake. So, if you turned 15 then 15 percent off, 50, half off and so forth. Actually, one time in my TV days, a great grandmother turned 100 which meant a free meal. Hmm, just thought of something. If you made it over the century mark did that mean they owed you money? Sorry, drifting.

By the way, the restaurant chain may be defunct, but their cakes are still available at area groceries. Although you have to purchase it.

Going way back, Doc Baker’s Drug Store in Five Oaks would offer a free drink from the soda fountain. And those syrupy Cokes he’d serve were ‘off the hook.’

My grandfather ran Old River, NCR’S recreation park, and since my birthday always fell around Labor Day, we’d celebrate with swimming, a picnic, and he’d serve us all soft serve ice cream from The Grove. Don’t think that was for the general public, but it was good to have a higher up as the man running the show.

As I recall, great old establishments like The Goody-Goody, Key Hole, and Anticoli’s would slip you a piece of pie or cake on your day.

And who could forget Georgie Rudin’s The Tropic’s on North Main Street in Dayton. This was ‘the place’ for big bands and the superstar singers of the day. Specializing in Polynesian food with a flair, it was a favorite of my family for decades.

Every Friday night, at 5:30 p.m., the Bucher clan would meet for great meals and socializing. And on my birthday, it was unlimited Roy Roger’s—with extra cherries of course. Good thing I wasn’t driving.

That was then, and this is now. To make your day extra special, there’s tons of places offering free stuff on your day of birth.

First, Perkin’s, if you can find one! The family friendly eatery was a pretty big staple around here at one time. There is a unit near the Dayton Mall exit off I-75 though. When you sign up on-line for your birthday you receive a classic breakfast meal. Just print out the certificate and present. You do get a few days past your day to use before expiring.

Honey Baked Ham offers a free ham sandwich, or turkey if you ask, another one where you sign up on their site.

Friendly’s and Denny’s give you breakfast on the house but, WHERE ARE THEY?

If you sign up and are heading out of town you may be able to locate a franchise. Just keep your certificate handy.

Free meals are offered for the kiddoes at McDonald’s, Bob Evans, Steak n’ Shake, Burger King, and Pizza Hut—can’t forget the youngins.

Cracker Barrel gives you a free dessert and a song— how about that? Sonic offers a free treat along with Chili’s, Dairy Queen, and Wendy’s offers a $1 off coupon.

Downtown’s Spaghetti Warehouse serves up a spaghetti entrée… what else? And a Spumoni Sundae. But you must sign up on their website.

Olive Garden serves a free dessert when you dine in and obviously purchase a meal. Culver’s, a one scoop sundae, and Redbox an on-the-house one-night video rental.

This, of course, is not a complete list. I’m betting when you visit your locally owned one-of-kind eatery, Coco’s, Oakwood Club, etc., just tell your server it’s your birthday and see what may surprise you.

A couple of good websites to visit are FreeBirthdayMeals.org and FavoriteCandle.com then click the Dayton tab. These sites are awesome and if you’re traveling on your birthday, you can check out what’s available in the area you’re visiting.

Again, most require you sign up with your email and limited information. Just beware you’ll be bombarded on your birthday, which can be a good thing.

They say nothing in life is free, well that may be true, but not on your special day.

Finally, let me the first to wish you a happy one.



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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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