Just outside the Quantico Marine Base on the Stafford County side of the line, the Spooners have created a different time and place. Amidst 1940s Big Band tunes, men wear neatly cinched ties and cuff links, some with matching pocket squares.
The elder Spooner, who is 86 and known as “The Major,” is unmistakable with his white, pencil-thin mustache, that goes neatly with a tan suit, tie and matching fedora. His son, known as Rick Jr., 56, takes an equally spiffy approach, with exposed close-cropped silver hair instead of the other-era hat.
Not surprisingly, the Spooners and others at the unmistakable tavern have a unique vantage point on the federal budget cuts known as sequestration, which has had effects on the Pentagon, federal law enforcement and defense contractors — in other words, their customers.
For the Spooners, the impact of the sequester fell on area defense contractors, the lifeblood of Quantico, even before the cuts officially kicked in on March 1, as many companies around the region tightened belts as federal budget talks not so far away sputtered.
Uniformed military pay has so far been spared. But budget and pay cuts are not entirely what bother the Spooners or many of the others in a place that exists not only to serve food, but also to espouse the values of those who serve, particularly the Marines.
“I deeply love my country, but I’m ashamed of my government,” said The Major, who opened the first Globe and Laurel in the town of Quantico in 1968, when he returned from service from his third major conflict, the Vietnam War. “My guys, the guys I fought with in World War II — they’d be humiliated. It’s a sign of weakness that will be noted throughout the world.”
For the staff, if slow days continue, layoffs are possible and work hours will likely be cut.
“I’m not worried about it, but I’m concerned about it,” The Major said. “Marines don’t give up. We owe it to them after 45 years . . . to keep the doors open.”
For much of the Spooners’ staff, their worries are constant.
Server Cene Roberts, 47, walked past Rick Jr. on a slow day. He asked her about her plans. Earlier, he had gathered his 40 staffers and told them to start looking for other part-time work, as it is inevitable that hours will be squeezed if cuts to the defense contractors continue.
“They can’t afford to hire me,” she told him of her efforts to find other work. “It ain’t easy.”
Roberts says the customers’ tips along with the $2.15 an hour she makes sometimes barely hits the minimum wage mark. And her hours have already been cut from 40 to 30 a week. The military veteran has started foregoing the supermarket, instead shopping at the Dollar Store, buying frozen dinners and a couple other items to make it through the week.