A bar and eatery in Woodstock is living up to its name to honor veterans and first responders while welcoming everyone else to be part of the camaraderie.
By Sampson Jenkins >>> Photograpy by Kathryn Ingall
Woodstock residents and former U.S. Marines Ralph and Carrie Roeger opened Semper Fi Bar and Grille in August 2015 and since then have witnessed their Main Street restaurant turn into a heart-warming and supportive community.
Semper fidelis, a Latin phrase meaning “always faithful” or “always loyal,” is the motto of the Marine Corps, and gave the restaurant its name.
Ralph Roeger, a retired Marine master sergeant, along with wife Carrie, who also served as a Marine, and daughter Samantha, were searching for a business location when they saw a “sign from God” that would change their lives forever.
A building the family had passed hundreds of times had just been repainted and when they pulled into the parking lot off of Main Street Woodstock, they knew that the red, white and blue building would be the future location for their dream restaurant.
Almost a year later, Semper Fi has created a place “for veterans, by veterans” where the walls are full of uniforms, photographs, newspapers and other war memorabilia donated by veterans who have a story to tell.
“Veterans are so important to us because we understand the price paid by many to protect this great nation,” Ralph said. “Veterans, first responders, and their family members are honored here.”
Patrons enjoy the diverse options of appetizers that Semper Fi offers, such as a warm traditional soft jumbo pretzel served with sweet and hot mustard and beer cheese sauce, hero fries covered with melted cheese sauce and crunchy bacon, or lightly battered Wisconsin cheddar fried cheese curds.
Salads are a big hit at the veterans’ eating grounds, and the famous black and blue salad served with tender blackened steak or chicken, blue cheese crumbs, diced cucumber and tomatoes on a bed of greens will get everyone’s taste buds going.
Veterans travel far and wide to get their hands on the top selling delicious Semper Fi Burger, made to order with melted cheese, a signature barbecue ranch sauce and candied bacon. What better to go with a scrumptious burger than a side of fries or onion rings, delivered to the table in a nostalgic military issued canteen cup?
Need a cold beverage to go with your meal? Semper Fi provides a full bar with a large variety of cold draft beers served in military tankard mugs that hang on the wall with customers’ names on them.
Another popular menu item the Roegers brought to their southern table is the Northern Fish Fry made up of beer-battered haddock fish and served with potato pancakes, apple sauce, coleslaw and potato salad.
For those with a sweet tooth, Semper Fi’s apple cobbler a la mode is the perfect ending to a perfect meal. Or maybe an ultimate brownie is the dessert of choice, served with whipped cream and a warm fudge-chocolate sauce.
The Woodstock community is important to Ralph and Carrie as they host fundraisers for local organizations and sponsor events within the community, providing fun and support to those in need.
Semper Fi, at 9770 Main St. in Woodstock, is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner and is closed on Mondays.