Bobi Jo Totten (Majeski) bought the building at 352 Washington Street, on the corner of Main and W. Railroad St. in Prophetstown in 2010. A lifetime RN, she had decided to use the building to open a school to teach CNA and other medical classes. The business thrived for 10 years adding the sale of medical scrubs the last two years. She decided to move on and went to work for IHCC, an in-home care service, with most of her clients military veterans.
Three years ago she met Mike Totten, a welder at Menk USA in Sterling and they were married. After closing her business she put the building on the market, but soon after, Michael suggested they move to Prophetstown and live above the storefront in the three bedroom apartment.
Mike and Bobi Jo enjoy playing slots and thought the downstairs space would be perfect for such a business. “I contacted a few people to see if they might be interested in operating in the storefront, but it didn’t work out. My oldest son Jeremy then suggested that I do it,” and so Semper Fi was born.
The couple began exploring the process of opening a gaming venue. Fast-forward one year and the space has been transformed into a veteran themed business, which is lacking the main components, the gaming machines. “We are waiting for a gaming official to visit our location for an inspection. Unfortunately, we don’t know when that’s going to happen.”
Why is it called Semper Fi? Mike is a Marine veteran having served in Operation Desert Storm and Bobi Joe caring for so many veterans in her work it seemed like a natural fit. “It means a lot to us that we honor all veterans,” said Bobi Jo.
The interior of the new business is decorated in a red, white, and blue theme with several of the walls featuring pictures of Veterans and the couple would like to increase that number. “We don’t want to be thought of as just a bar and gaming business but a comfortable place for people to gather and celebrate veterans,” said Mike.
Since the space was ready the Tottens decided to open without the machines to introduce the public to the space. They have a small bar and also serve coffee. They are currently open Friday and Saturday from 1 PM-1 AM and on Sundays from 1-8 PM. “It’s been really wonderful. A lot of nice people come in and everybody is enjoying the space.”
One unique quality of the establishment, at the insistence of Mike, will be two chairs at each gaming machine. “That way a couple can sit together if they want.” When they arrive, the six machines will be spread throughout the room.
The couple is planning a phase II of the business sometime next year; BBQ. Making BBQ has been a hobby of Mike’s for 15 years. Being a welder, he eventually made his own smoker and says, “I love it.” Currently he cooks for private events and plans to start selling to the public in a separate business in the rear of Semper Fi. OORAH Barbecue will be a take out only business. You can contact Mike for additional information on the OORAH BBQ FB Page.
The Tottens plan on being hands-on owners as they both love to meet people and want to keep the atmosphere fun and friendly.
Until the gaming machines arrive the venue can be rented for private parties Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 PM.
You can find out more information about Semper Fi on their Facebook Page or call Bobi Jo at 815-441-1657.
The couple is also planning a free lunch for veterans on Saturday, August 6 from 11 AM-3 PM. All Veterans and their families are invited.