Retired Marine Corps Maj. Rick Spooner, now 92, said he and his wife, Gloria, opened the Globe & Laurel restaurant 50 years ago out of a desire to serve those who put everything—even their lives—on the line for the love of their country.
“They deserved a place they could gather and enjoy the company of other like-minded individuals,” Spooner said. His posture was ramrod straight, and he sported a full head of white crewcut hair and a pencil-thin mustache. “I wanted to give them a comfortable place to relax, have a drink, a bite to eat—a home.”
Located just south of Marine Corps Base Quantico and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in North Stafford at 3987 Jefferson Davis Highway, the restaurant—patterned after an English pub and including a cigar lounge—has a loyal following among Marines and law enforcement officers.
After serving in the Pacific Theater during WWII, and then in Korea and Vietnam, Spooner, who’s known affectionately as “The Major,” was still on active duty when he opened the Globe & Laurel in 1968. He served in the Marines more than 29 years, starting at age 17 as a rifleman and earning four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star along the way.
Spooner has written two books on his military life and Marine Corps history, “The Spirit of Semper Fidelis” (2004), about his time in the Pacific, and “A Marine Anthology” (2011), a collection of stories.
The Spooners and their restaurant were featured on “War Stories” on the History Channel, as well as the Food Network. Mystery writer Patricia Cornwell mentions the Globe & Laurel in her book “All that Remains.”
At a 50th anniversary tribute organized Wednesday night at the restaurant, government officials and politicians gathered with Spooner’s loyal customers, friends and family to celebrate.
“On any given night, you’ll come in here and you might be sitting next to a lance corporal or a former commandant—a living legend,” said Derek Maurer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction and a retired Marine. “That’s part of the magic—anyone and everyone is welcome at the Major’s table.”
Maurer’s wife, Wendy, representative for the Rock Hill District on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, helped organize Wednesday’s event.
“The Major is very special to me, and to so many others,” Wendy Maurer said. “And the Globe & Laurel is an institution, a piece of history. We want to recognize both of those facts.”
A document honoring Spooner and his restaurant was read into the U.S. Congressional Record by Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman on July 24, and also shared at the celebration Wednesday evening. Portions of complimentary letters from Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert B. Neller, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, and the Stafford County Board of Supervisors were also read.
Maj. Chase Bradford, director of the Infantry Officer Course that produces the Marine Corps' infantry platoon commanders, presented Spooner with a framed print of a painting by Charles Waterhouse depicting part of Marine Corps history, “First Flag at New Providence.”
Refreshments were served at the event and attendees were provided with ample time to visit and congratulate Spooner.
The Globe & Laurel was located on Broadway Street in the town of Quantico when it opened 50 years ago, but that building was destroyed by fire in 1974. It moved to a location near the entrance of Quantico on U.S. 1 in Triangle, and remained there until 2008, when Spooner was notified the building had been condemned in order to widen U.S. Route 1 in that part of Prince William County.
“Stafford County officials heard about it and gave me the assignment to go and invite him to relocate in Stafford,” Wendy Maurer said, who at the time was working for Stafford’s Economic Development Authority.
“I walked in [the restaurant] and fell in love. It embodied veteran service, history, dedication to country—the ambience of the place and the Major himself completely moved me,” she said.
Marine Corps memorabilia covered the walls and tables—countless medals, including a Medal of Honor and a Victoria Cross, shoulder patches and sidearms, a bugle and drum, canteen, trench knives and sharpshooter badges, signed photos of Commandants and presidents.
An estimated 8,000 police patches, donated one at a time by law enforcement personnel who attended Quantico’s prestigious FBI National Academy over the last half century, completely covered the restaurant’s ceiling. It was likely the largest collection of its kind in the world.
All of it had to be preserved and moved to provide the new location with the pub-like feel of the original.
“The Globe & Laurel is actually the insignia of the UK’s Royal Marines,” said Rick Spooner Jr., Spooner’s son, who is co-owner of the restaurant, a retired Marine and a major. “My dad chose that because he always wanted to own an English pub, and to represent the international brotherhood of the Marines.”
Stafford’s EDA in 2008 gave the Globe & Laurel $50,000 toward relocation and renovation costs and $33,000 annually over the next three years. Other organizations also raised money to help out. Spooner agreed to move to the new building, which had previously housed the restaurants The Keep and Philly’s.
The new restaurant opened June 6, 2012, the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Belleau Wood in WWI, during which U.S. Marines figured a major part and an event ingrained in Marine Corps folklore.
Gloria, Spooner’s wife, died several years after the move, and Spooner suffered a stroke not long after that, both difficult challenges that have taken their toll. One frigid winter night smoking cigars together on the restaurant’s porch, Spooner and his son decided to convert a storeroom into the Cigar Lounge, which opened in 2014.
“It is impossible to calculate the number of lives touched by the Globe & Laurel restaurant and the Spooners,” Wendy Maurer said. “The Major is still there, every day, sharing stories, talking politics—he provides the kind of camaraderie and atmosphere that’s rare these days, and invaluable.”
“Everyone who comes here is a dedicated American—we all have that in common,” Spooner said. “Hopefully we can continue to provide a gathering place for such people for many years to come.”