Once a Marine Hangout, Always a Marine Hangout

By Nick Miroff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 5, 2008

When the forces of eminent domain laid siege this spring to his legendary Quantico area haunt, the Globe and Laurel restaurant, 82-year-old retired Marine Corps Maj. Richard T. Spooner could have hoisted the white flag and eased off into retirement.

After all, he had survived three wars and nearly four decades in the restaurant business, building his small pub into a local landmark, its walls and ceilings covered by military insignia and police department patches donated by loyal patrons.

But Spooner, who still gets a brush-cut on the Quantico base every Monday morning and ends most conversations with the Marine Corps motto, "Semper Fi," wasn't ready to stand down. So tomorrow evening, less than five weeks after closing the old Globe and Laurel, Spooner and his wife, Gloria, are starting over, reopening their place two miles south at a Route 1 location in Stafford County.

"I can't give up and retire. That's what old men do," deadpanned Spooner. "I've got a mission."

Not reopening was never really an option, said Spooner, who considers himself more of a "steward" of the restaurant than its owner. "I've got people who depend on us."

In his familiar blue blazer, tie and khaki trousers, Spooner darted around his new digs earlier this week like a battle commander, deploying contractors, training new staff and bantering with Gloria, 78, who, after five decades of marriage, is somewhat less inclined to follow the major's orders than the new wait staff. Or laugh at his jokes.

She and her husband are simply too restless to stop working, she said. The last time her husband went to Florida and observed his peers, she said, "He couldn't stand to see people sitting around and not doing anything."

Fortunately, the Globe and Laurel's new location has more than enough room to contain the couple's ambitions. The building, which formerly housed Philly's sports bar and The Keep restaurant before that, was designed to suggest a medieval European castle. It's nearly as large as one, with 7,000 square feet of space, a huge parking lot, an outdoor deck, stone fireplaces and five dining rooms, including a banquet hall for special events.

By comparison, the previous location, which Prince William County took over as part of a $75 million Route 1 improvement project, was about 1,700 square feet. Seating capacity at the old site was 62; the new restaurant seats 150.

"There's too much space," Spooner groused about the location, which at least, he concedes, has "adequate parking." Its walls are still mostly a blank canvas, as Spooner and his friends have only begun to put up memorabilia from the old Globe and Laurel. The black tartan carpet, which Spooner had custom-made in Glasgow, also made the journey and has been reinstalled, though it's far too small to cover the floor of the new site.

Spooner, a Dumfries resident, said he tried to find a building in Prince William close to his former location but couldn't get the right fit. Meanwhile, county officials in Stafford wooed him, and he settled on the new location, which is farther from the main gate of the Quantico base but closer to the FBI Academy.

Several of Spooner's regulars began trickling in this week, even though the restaurant wasn't officially open. They gave it high marks.

"Once they get all the memorabilia up, it'll feel like the old Globe and Laurel," said Don Cahill, a Stafford resident who has frequented Spooner's place since it first opened in Quantico, in August 1968. After all, Cahill has seen it relocate once before, when a fire forced Spooner to move the restaurant to the Route 1 site, where it remained for 32 years until April.

Watching Spooner zip around the main dining room, cracking jokes and greeting friends, Cahill said his friend hadn't aged. "He's looked like that since the day I met him," he said.

And he said he didn't doubt that Spooner would start over.

"Although this place belongs to a lot of people, everyone expects him to be standing at the door when they come in," he said. "It wouldn't be the same without him."

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