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Golden Corral Military Appreciation Night Logo

Honoring Our Military

We’re proud to have honored our active and former military members for 20 years through Military Appreciation Night, and are excited to be able to return to a Dine in celebration this year! Military Appreciation Night will be held on Veterans Day, Thursday, November 11 from 5pm – close. We will once again be honoring our military heroes with a free “thank you” meal.

Military Appreciation Event 2021 FAQs

Golden Corral© is proud of the U.S. military members who defend our country and our rights. We honor them every year with a special thank you dinner on our Military Appreciation Night. As of 2020, we have served 6 million free meals to our active duty and retired military heroes. But our commitment does not stop there. Over the past 20 years, Golden Corral© restaurants and their guests together have raised over $17 million dollars for Disabled American Veterans.

Q: What is the date for 2021? A: Military Appreciation Night will be held on Thursday, November 11, 2021 from 5pm – close. Q: Who is eligible for the free “thank you” dinner? A: Any person who has served in the U.S. Military (retirees, veterans, active duty, National Guard or Reserves). Q: Why does Golden Corral provide this dinner? A: We appreciate the men and women who are serving and who have served, and we are honored to offer this special event to thank them in person. Q: Can I bring my family? A: We know that spouses, children, mothers, and fathers deserve a heart-felt thank you, too, for their own personal sacrifices here at home. Family and friends are welcome to come join the celebration for our military heroes; however, the free ‘thank you’ dinner is for the person who served. Other guests will pay the regular dinner menu pricing. Q: Can I have a rain check for another night? A: There are no rain checks for Military Appreciation Night. We hope you can arrange your schedule to join us. Q: Can I have my free “thank you” meal as a takeout meal? A: There are no take-out meals associated with this dinner as most veterans feel that this is a great opportunity to renew old friendships, make new friends, and simply enjoy the evening as Golden Corral’s special guest. Q: How many meals has Golden Corral served over the past 20 years? A: Golden Corral restaurants have served 6 million free ‘thank you’ meals to our heroes in the military over the past 20 years. Q: How much has Golden Corral donated to the Disabled American Veterans over the past 20 years? A: Golden Corral restaurants and their guests have donated over $17 million dollars to the Disabled American Veterans organization in the past 20 years.

LANCE TRENARY

PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Lance Trenary began his restaurant career in his father’s restaurant at a young age, where he learned the value of guests and the people who serve them. Lance joined Golden Corral in 1986 as Partner Manager. After deciding to pursue a multiunit career with Golden Corral, he quickly rose through the system, holding leadership roles of increasing responsibility. He was named President and Chief Executive Officer in January 2015, leading America’s largest buffet and grill concept and becoming only the third person to hold this position in the brand’s 49-year history. This year marks Lance’s 36th year with Golden Corral.

Lance’s industry leadership includes his current role as Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association, as well as serving as a Trustee for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Lance also serves on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association and is a former Chair (2016). He has chaired the Restaurant Industry Executive Council and served as a WFF CEO Advisory Council member.

Lance was the 2022 recipient of the highest honor in the restaurant industry, the IFMA Gold and Silver Plate Awards. In 2019, Lance was named the Restaurateur of the Year by NCRLA and was a past recipient of the Griff and June Glover Award for Distinguished Service. In addition, Lance was the recipient of the 2019 Chairman’s Award for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and was the National Restaurant Association’s 2020 Chairman’s Award recipient for outstanding leadership and contributions to the industry. He has also been named to the Society of Fellows of the Culinary Institute of America.

Committed to giving back, Lance served as a founding board member for Camp Corral, a summer camp for children of wounded or fallen military service members, and chaired the board in 2019. Lance also serves on the Founder’s Circle Advisory Board for Project Healing Waters, which is dedicated to physically and emotionally rehabilitating wounded or disabled military service personnel. He was honored by that organization with the Patriot Award for a lifelong commitment to our military veterans. In addition, he is a passionate supporter of ProStart for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. He contributes time and resources to help young people explore career opportunities in the industry he loves. He makes supporting the development of the future leaders of the restaurant industry a personal priority.

Lance and his wife of 37 years, Paulette, have two adult daughters, Elizabeth and Ally-Catherine.

JIM LAVERTY

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Jim has been part of the Golden Corral family for over 41 years. In 2014, Jim was appointed Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration of Golden Corral and GC Cares. In his current role as the Chief Financial Officer of Golden Corral Corporation, Jim directs the Accounting and IT Departments and is responsible for the protection of the financial assets of the company, coordination of the company’s budget, financial forecasting for the strategic plan and maintaining the company’s records.

Jim graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from Penn State University in 1979.

He is an avid golfer and sports enthusiasts as well as an active member of his church family. Making their home in Cary, NC, Jim and his wife enjoy spending time with their children and their spouses as well as their grandchildren.

SHELLEY WOLFORD

CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER

Shelley Wolford has worked in the hospitality industry for over 25 years.  She joined the extended leadership team at Golden Corral Corporation ten years ago, first as Vice President of National Marketing for six years, before moving into a senior leadership role as Senior Vice President of Strategy & Communications.  This year, Shelley’s role expanded to Chief People Officer, which includes leadership responsibility for Human Resources, while retaining her strategy and communications responsibilities. 

Shelley also dedicates time to advancing meaningful industry causes through her roles as Foundation Board Vice Chair for the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association, Advisory Board member for the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, and Advisory Council member for the Global Foodservice Hospitality Exchange.  In addition, she was recently appointed to the North Carolina Education and Workforce Innovation Commission to join educators and community leaders to ensure that the state has an effective and efficient workforce development system that meets the current and future needs of workers and businesses.

Shelley received her B.S. in Hotel and Food Administration from Boston University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband Denny and their dog Nutmeg.

PAUL “SKIP” HANKE

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Skip Hanke joined Golden Corral Corporation as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in 2021. Skip is responsible for Golden Corral’s National Marketing, Advertising, and Media Plan, as well as its Local Store Marketing and Off-Premise Business.  As CMO, Skip is also responsible for Food & Beverage / Culinary Innovation, Guest Insights, and Purchasing.

As a 4th Generation U.S.Navy Veteran, Skip achieved the rank of Lieutenant as a United States Naval Officer.

Skip holds both a BA in Economics with distinction from Duke University (cum laude) and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with distinction from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.  An avid golfer and sports fan, he lives in Cary, North Carolina.

DAVID CONKLIN

CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

David Conklin has worked in the hospitality industry for over 22 years.  He joined the Golden Corral Senior Leadership Team 8 years ago, first as the Senior Vice President of Development before being promoted to Chief Development Officer.  David leads our efforts for Company Growth and Brand Expansion, Innovation and Remodels.  He is responsible for Franchise Development, Real Estate, Construction and Coastal Equipment – Golden Corral’s equipment company.   He also dedicates time to the expansion of the hospitality industry and increasing visibility of the industry as a career path by supporting the East Carolina University School of Hospitality Leadership as an Advisory Board Member.

David received his both his B.A. in Legal Studies, and J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.   He lives in the Raleigh, North Carolina area with his family.

CHAPPELL PHILLIPS

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT / GENERAL COUNSEL & SECRETARY

Chappell Phillips is the Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of Golden Corral Corporation, leading the company’s Legal Department and overseeing all legal aspects of key strategic activities. He has been a member of the Senior Leadership Team since 2017, first as Senior Vice President before being promoted to Executive Vice President in 2021. He has also served as an officer of GC Cares since its inception in 2017. Prior to joining Golden Corral in 2013 as Assistant General Counsel, Chappell spent 18 years practicing in-house at various companies, including 11 years with Kimball International, a global manufacturer based in Indiana.

Chappell enjoys actively advocating for the interests of the restaurant industry as a member of the Board of Directors of the Restaurant Law Center, serving as Chairman from 2020 through 2022.

A native Tar Heel, Chappell received a BA in Latin American Studies and JD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Chappell is licensed to practice law in North Carolina. He and his wife Elaine live in Hillsborough, NC and have seven children and a dog Luna. Outside of work he enjoys time with family and church friends, playing pickleball, tennis, and basketball, and attending UNC basketball games.