bennigan-s-selected-among-top-50-franchises-veteransBennigan’s, the Legendary restaurant brand renowned for its signature Irish hospitality, is fast becoming known for another purpose: its commitment to recruiting, advancing, and supporting military veterans.

The fourth annual survey by the World Franchising Network for USA Today recognized Bennigan’s for its multi-faceted outreach to veterans by selecting the company to its Top 50 Franchises for Veterans in 2013.

Announced at the International Franchise Expo in New York City, and published in the June 21st issue of USA Today, the Top 50 were selected from a pool of more than 425 applicants. The survey evaluated companies on a wide array of measures, including veteran representation in senior management and franchise ranks, programs specifically created to attract veterans and discounts offered on initial investment, franchise fees, and on-going royalties.

“Everyone at Bennigan’s recognizes the sacrifices made by the 20 million veterans now living in the U.S. and those still in harm’s way in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Korean peninsula and all across the globe,” says Bennigan’s president & CEO Paul Mangiamele. “Our dedication to honoring, supporting, and partnering with these brave men and women is an uncompromising aspect of our corporate culture.”

Since he was recruited in 2011 to lead the iconic Bennigan’s brand back to its former glory, Mangiamele has instituted a program that waives the company’s franchise fee for all qualified and honorably discharged veterans. Operated through Bennigan’s membership in the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program, the franchise incentive offers a total savings of approximately $35,000 and runs through the end of 2013.

“It’s certainly gratifying to be recognized on the Top 50 list, but we’re not in this for the accolades,” says Mangiamele. “We’re in it for our country and, selfishly, we understand that nobody knows what it means to work hard and be committed to a cause more than a veteran. We want them in the trenches with us at Bennigan’s.”

Bennigan’s is currently in the midst of its second annual Wall of Heroes campaign, a guest-inspired initiative that encourages customers to purchase a drink in honor of anyone that is currently serving or has served in the U.S. Armed Forces. They are then asked to write a message on a Wall of Heroes notecard supplied by their server, take a photo of the drink and the message, hashtag the photo with #WallofHeroes, and upload it to Twitter or Instagram.

For every #WallofHeroes photo uploaded, Bennigan’s will donate $1.00 to the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, a leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding the lives of severely wounded veterans of the War on Terror. The campaign kicked off on Memorial Day and runs through September 8th.

“We invite every veteran, and every friend and family member of a veteran or active service member, to visit their neighborhood Bennigan’s and pen a note to their hero,” Mangiamele says.

In addition, Bennigan’s is proud to offer a 10-percent discount to all U.S. veterans and active duty service members at participating locations through December 31, 2013.

“The steady increase in veteran representation within the overall franchising community over the last several years has been extremely encouraging,” says Rob Bond, founder of the World Franchising Network. “It certainly is clear evidence of the intrinsic values, invaluable experience learned through life’s lessons and the exceptional work ethic of our military veterans. Hopefully, this trend will continue so that these fine young men and women can test their skills in franchising.”