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Veterans plan to open FOB-themed pub near Pendleton

Sep. 4, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Former soldiers Chris and Daisy Oswalt plan to open up the FOB Bunker Bar and Grill early next year, bringing military-themed dining and drinking to a new restaurant near Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Former soldiers Chris and Daisy Oswalt plan to open up the FOB Bunker Bar and Grill early next year, bringing military-themed dining and drinking to a new restaurant near Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Courtesy of Chris Oswalt)
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Two former soldiers plan to make Marines feel at home in their new restaurant by decking it out in camouflage netting with sandbags lining the walls — and the menu will feature items chicken “M-WRAPS,” napalm nachos and homemade MREs.

Chris and Daisy Oswalt, a couple from southern California, plan to open up the FOB Bunker Bar and Grill early next year, bringing military-themed dining and drinking to a new restaurant near Camp Pendleton. From the decor to the menu, every detail about the restaurant highlights the couple’s commitment to supporting veterans, including their plan to donate to military-related charities.

“We’re about the survivors, the guys who went through hell,” Chris Oswalt said. “For this generation of desert warrior, they’re going to see a lot of the things from the FOB to make it like home as much as possible.”

War memorabilia from every campaign since World War II will accent the rugged walls. The FOB will also include something many troops probably wished they saw while deployed: a full bar.

The FOB will serve up American classics like burgers and fried fish. But Marines won’t be without their favorite MRE flavors, like cheese tortellini — only instead of serving it in brown bags with water-activated heat packs, it’ll be made with fresh ingredients in the kitchen.

“The quality is going to be way better,” said Daisy Oswalt, a former specialist attached to an intelligence unit in the Louisiana National Guard until 2006. “It’s not going to clog your plumbing like MREs are meant to do.”

Everyone they’ve hired has years of restaurant experience, including a former member of Spanish special forces. They know what they’re doing in a kitchen, Chris Oswalt said.

“It’s not a bunch of ground-pounders who can barbeque real well and decided to open up a restaurant,” he said.

Oswalt said he hoped to open a venue like the FOB Bunker Bar and Grill since eating at an Army Air Forces-themed restaurant with his prom date. He worked at a handful of restaurants before he enlisted in the Army and became a paratrooper and Arabic linguist, with deployments to Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

He has worked as a contractor since leaving the Army as a sergeant in 1999 following an injury he sustained during a parachute jump, but the dream of opening a restaurant never faded.

The couple is starting with the first restaurant in Murietta, California, just north of Camp Pendleton and San Diego where tens of thousands of Marines, sailors and their families reside. Eventually, they hope to open up a FOB Bunker Bar and Grill in every state where they can be close to at least one major military installation, Chris Oswalt said.

Even though the couple has an Army background, they want to make sure the environment is appealing to all troops and their families, Daisy Oswalt said.

Oswalt is trying to get investors to support his venture and said he hopes to sign a deal on a location this fall. He’s planning for a soft-opening around the holidays and a grand opening a few months later.

Ultimately though, the FOB will be a way to pay tribute to those who served. The two plan to let units buy space on the walls where they can paint their logos. Those funds — along with 10 percent of the FOB’s net profit — will go to charities, Chris Oswalt said.

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