State Farm agency’s breakfasts bring veterans together

Veterans breakfast sponsored monthly at Manhattan, Homer Glen restaurants

Kevin Molloy poses for a photo in his office on Tuesday, Oct. 24 in New Lenox. Kevin hosts and pays for a monthly breakfast for military veterans.

Five years ago, Kevin Molloy started a breakfast event that has provided veterans with a monthly venue to make connections.

Not a veteran himself, Molloy said the veterans breakfast is State Farm agency’s way of saying thank you to veterans.

“They’re all together like they should be,” Molloy said of the veterans who gather once a month for the event.

The breakfast is from 7 to 8:30 a.m. the second Monday of every month at Roadhouse 52, a restaurant at 525 S. State St. in Manhattan.

A staff employee came up with the idea at a yearly brainstorming session during which Molloy’s agency in New Lenox plans, among other things, what contributions it can make to the community.

“It was the best thing that ever came out of those meetings,” Molloy said.

The food is free, but veterans come for more than the food, he said. He’s seen the common bond that exists among military veterans once they get together – whether they served in World War II, Vietnam or the Persian Gulf.

“Those guys are close to each other,” Molloy said. “They’re literally like brothers who have a 20-year gap in age.”

Kevin Molloy hosts a breakfast for military veterans at Roadhouse 52 in Manhattan on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023.

Molloy learned how close when one of the regulars missed a couple of breakfasts because of a medical treatment that had him confined in a rehabilitation center in Kankakee. When Molloy mentioned what happened, some of the veterans drove down to visit.

“I didn’t say, ‘Why don’t you go see him?’ ” Molloy said. “They did it because of the relationship.”

Molloy’s veterans breakfast idea has caught on at State Farm, and a few other agencies have begun to sponsor their own breakfasts. The events also include speakers and information that matters to veterans.

Erik Papineau, assistant superintendent at the Will County Veterans Assistance Commission, visits Roadhouse 52 every month to provide information and answer questions.

Another representative from the VAC goes to a monthly breakfast sponsored by State Farm agent Michelle Kerfin at the Blueberry Hill Cafe in Homer Glen.

The breakfasts provide an easygoing venue at which to talk with veterans about developments that matter to them, such as changing rules that have unlocked more medical coverage for toxic exposures, Papineau said.

“I just talk with the veterans one-[on]-one,” Papineau said. “Any opportunity we have to talk with veterans on a casual basis and give information, we’re going to take that.”

Anywhere from 25 to 40 come to the breakfasts in Manhattan.

Molloy said it’s the connections they make that matter. In providing advice for other agents interested in sponsoring such breakfasts, he said it’s important to be there and be close to the veterans.

“If you want to do this, go table to table,” Molloy said. “They’re looking for a connection, not a free meal.”