The Globe & Laurel Restaurant is Virginia's 'Tun Tavern'

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For many members of the Marine Corps being invited to a retirement party for a fellow Marine is sometimes sadder than attending a funeral. Retirement thrusts them away from the camaraderie of their brothers and sisters in arms and into the civilian world. In 1968, Maj. Rick Spooner recognized the need for a place to bring together his fellow Marines, and with that the Globe and Laurel was born.

It started out as a hobby. Spooner had just returned from two years in Vietnam and was hungry for a challenge. He understood the deep need of Marines both active duty and retired to be together. With zero experience and all the passion and firepower of a 155 mm Howitzer, Spooner and his wife, Gloria, opened their restaurant in the town of Quantico.

"It was a good thing we didn't know anything about the restaurant industry," said Spooner, "because if we had, we never would have done it." Despite the Spooners' large learning curve, the customers came and devoured the cheeseburgers and sandwiches Spooner served, while swapping stories with their fellow leathernecks.

The Spooners were a team of intense faith and Marine determination. Not even the fire that gutted their restaurant in 1973 fazed them from their mission to serve men and women in uniform.

"There was never any doubt that we would rebuild," said Spooner. "Marines don't give up."

Soon Spooner was faced with his own retirement, and his wife encouraged him to transform their part-time hobby into a full-time business. Out went the sandwiches and in came "Semper Fi Steak" and calamari. Pieces of military history donated by Spooner and loyal customers adorn the walls. Museum-quality relics cover the spectrum of the Marines' history from the 1800s to present and include enough weaponry to outfit a small army.

One interesting conversation piece is a World War II canteen on display in a wooden case. It belonged to a Japanese soldier who took Spooner prisoner on Saipan. Spooner calls him the "Christian Soldier" because he wore a crucifix under his uniform and showed Spooner mercy.

Father John C. Cregan, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria, is a longtime friend of the both Spooner and his wife, whom he described as a "pillar of faith." Father Cregan enjoys coming down to the Globe and Laurel to visit with Spooner and talk about their military days.

"Maj. Spooner is a real treasure to the Marine Corps and does a lot to promote the spirit of the Marine Corps," said Father Cregan, who also is a retired Marine. "It is a place a lot of Marines cherish."

Military patrons liken the Globe and Laurel to the Tun Tavern in Pennsylvania, which is believed to be the location of the first Marine Corps recruitment.

The Globe and Laurel now stands at its third location in Stafford, down the road from the Marine Corps Museum.

Spooner comes in almost every day as the gracious host to greet his guests and toast "Semper Fi" with his fellow marines. Sometimes it takes him an hour to get from the front door of the restaurant to his office because reconnecting with old friends and making sure his customers are enjoying themselves always comes first. He views his work at the Globe and Laurel as a vocation and feels privileged to serve his customers who give so much of themselves to protect the nation.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015