Woodstock Semper Fi Bar & Grille celebrates Veterans Day 365 days a year

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 6:06 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A step inside Semper Fi Bar and Grille transports most people to foreign lands overseas. But for many veterans, this crowded Woodstock bar is a warm homecoming.

Ralph and Carrie Roeger opened the military bar in 2015 after recognizing a need in the Atlanta area for comradery.

“We’ve created a beacon in the community where veterans and civilians and families can come together,” said Ralph. “Their pictures are on the wall, their buddies’ pictures are on the wall, people they served with.”

The walls of the establishment are adorned with photographs, newspaper clippings, flags, and memorabilia. A small table set for one sits in the corner with a dedication to “The Missing Hero.” Dozens of military men, women, and their loved ones sit in booths and at the bar.

The Roegers say their restaurant holds more meaning.

“There’s really more meaning to what we do,” said Carrie. “They find that connection and camaraderie with one another which is very healing for our veteran community.”

Ralph served in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years. Carrie served for five years. The pair were inspired to open the restaurant after visiting a similar establishment in Las Vegas. Over the past seven years, other servicemembers have helped mold the bar into the special place it is today.

“All the memorabilia that is in this building has been mostly donated by our local veterans and their families,” said Ralph.

The result is a servicemember sanctuary where invisible walls are broken down and impossible conversations are shared.

Ralph calls these moments “God things.” He remembers one particularly moving interaction amongst a large family seated in the dining area.

“The grandfather was a Korean war vet – never talked about their military service at all,” explained Ralph. “They were in here for about four hours, but after about 30 minutes he opened up like a can of worms and started spilling everything.”

Hundreds of military members flock to the Woodstock watering hole each year to celebrate the Marine Corps’ birthday and Veterans Day. While many might not know one another, they share an eternal bond over battle.

“When people say thank you for creating this place, it really drives the message home we’re doing the right thing,” said Carrie. “Even if we don’t know them, we know them because they’re veterans or their families are veterans.”