Dancing the Day Away at the Carpe DM Marathon

Carpe DM–A Dance Marathon for a Good Cause

The 2nd Annual Carpe DM Dance Marathon is just around the corner. This Sunday, November 5 at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern in Nags Head, the chance to dance ’til your feet fall off is just waiting to for the right hoofer.

The Carpe DM is a fundraiser for GEM Services. The organization provides day services for adults suffering from memory loss.

If last year’s event is any predictor—and we’re confident it is—the 2017 version should be a blast. Music from the Riff Tides is always a good time. The music is straight from the late 1950s to mid 1960s—ie. it’s du whop music and the Riff Tides do it to perfection.

It’s all about the dance, of course, and that’s where it gets interesting. Individuals, teams, partners…anyone who pays the fee and wants to dance can get on the waxed dance floor of Kelly’s and try their luck.

The object is to be the last dancer dancing. It’s sort of like the movie “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” without the angst, depression and rage. Actually, it’s really fun…at least that’s what the contestants reported last year.

GEMm Adult Day Services has become an important part of helping local individuals and families coping with memory loss. Through education, programs and support the organization has been invaluable in bringing awareness to the issues surrounding dementia, including information on treatment and care options as well as helping families find ways to cope with the stress of caring for a loved one.

This may be a last dance at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern. Mike Kelly will be closing his signature restaurant at the end of the month. The 4.9 acres that is home to the building is being sold to Lidl, a discount grocery store headquartered in Germany.

Kelly’s other restaurants, Pamlico Jack’s in Nags Head and Mako Mike’s in Kill Devil Hills will remain open. Kelly’s Catering Services will also continue to serve customers.

Late November Closing for Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern

Fundraiser from GEM Adult services at Kelly's Outer Banks Tavern in 2016. Fundraising was a frequent activity at the bar.
Fundraiser from GEM Adult services at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern in 2016. Fundraising was a frequent activity at the bar.
End of an Era Comes Sooner Than Expected

Last week Mike Kelly confirmed rumors that had been swirling about for some time—at  the end of November he will be closing Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern.

If there is a surprise in this, it is that the closing is coming much sooner than expected. Most observers felt Mike would keep his flagship operation open through the New Year to take full advantage of the revenues the end of year celebrations generate.

For at least a year, Mike has been in negotiations with Lidl, a German discount grocery chain. With almost five acres available, the lot is one of the few left that is considered suitable for a large standalone store.

For long-time visitors to the Outer Banks and residents, there is a sense of an end of an era. Kelly’s has always been for years the go to place to meet friends or catch some live music. Perhaps most significantly, Mike has always been generous with the use of his facility, working with a number of local nonprofit when they needed a place for a fundraiser.

Opened in 1985 after purchasing the original building, Kelly’s soon became the centerpiece of Outer Banks nightlife. With a large bar area, national acts could be booked on the Outer Banks.

As Kelly’s popularity grew, so did the need for more space and about 15 years ago, Mike doubled the capacity of his tavern.

It’s a mistake, though, to think Kelly’s is just a bar with entertainment. From the outset, the restaurant set a high bar for well-prepared food, an excellent wine list and outstanding service.

The success of the restaurant allowed Mike to expand, and the Kelly Hospitality Group now includes Pamlico Jack’s in Nags Head, Mako Mikes in Kill Devil Hills and Kelly’s Catering Services. There are no plans to close or discontinue any other of the operations.

OBX St. Pat’s Day Parade-A Great Time on a Cold Day

Paying tribute to Councilman Warren Judge. The Dare County Democratic Party float.
Paying tribute to Councilman Warren Judge. The Dare County Democratic Party float.
A Cold Day for a Parade

It was cold today in Nags Head for the 28th Annual Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but it was still a great time and the entertainment value was outstanding.

The smaller than usual crowd had a great time. They stamped their feet, jumped up and down and counted their blessings because a few days ago the forecast was calling for 3” of snow.

The Kelly’s Parade is not quite like any other.

It has all of the elements of a classic parade…some marching band and lots of floats. But then there’s the the marching dogs, antique cars, fire engines and what appears to be every business on the Outer Banks driving by with a magnetic sign on their car door.

There is also the unicyclist who plays the trumpet and jumps rope on his unicycle…that’s not something seen everyday.

If the parade was not as well attended as usual, the kids that were there, didn’t seem to be complaining. Participants traditionally throw out candy and the volume of candy remains the same whether the crowd is at 10,000 or 2,000.

A Good Day for a Parade

Mike Kelly has never had to postpone or cancel one of his parades, although with what the weather looked like as late as Wednesday, there had to be some thought of moving it to next weekend. But if it was cold and windy, it was still a good day for a parade. And, the sun even came out as the parade was finishing up.

Even though it was cold, there were at least free hotdogs and entertainment waiting under the tent across the Bypass at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern.

Was it the best Kelly’s St. Pat’s Day Parade ever? Hard to say. Probably not. But at the parades are always a good time and it certainly seemed to be the coldest, and that makes it memorable.

OBX Valentine’s Day-Create Some Memories

Trio will be offering an Aphrodisiac dinner pairing on Saturday and Valentine's Day.
Trio will be offering an Aphrodisiac dinner pairing on Saturday and Valentine’s Day.

There are very few places anywhere as romantic as the Outer Banks, which makes Valentine’s Day by the sea even better.

Of course the Outer Banks slows down in the winter, but local restaurants and bars are a long way from dead and a number of them have some great ideas for how to celebrate with someone special.

What’s nice is that our local businesses, recognizing that a lot of couples take the weekend as a romantic getaway, have some pre-Valentine’s Day ideas that are a great reason to step out for the evening.

This is a partial list, although we think we’ve got a good sampling of what there is to do; but if there is a special place that has been the regular Valentine’s Day rendezvous, call and see what’s available.

Saturday & Sunday February 11, 12

Ocean Boulevard, Kitty Hawk

Special 4-Course Dinner

Perfect for a romantic evening with someone special. A special 4-course dinner  menu.

Saturday February 11

Trio. Kitty Hawk

Aphrodisiac Pairing Dinner.

Put a little passion into Valentine’s day with the Trio Aphrodisiac Pairing Dinner. These five-course dinners feature ingredients believed to have properties that spark desire. Each course will be paired with a  choice of wine or beer, further enhancing the mood. 

Sunday, February 12

Kelly’s Outer Baks Tavern, Nags Head

Riff Tides

Classic music of the 1950s and 60s done really well. A great date night. It’s also a fundraiser for GEM, providing services for families and their loved ones suffering from memory loss.

Valentine’s Day

Coastal Provisions, Southern Shores

Hannah Buckley

Outstanding vocalist and guitarist Hannah Buckley is perfect for a romantic dinner under soft lights. She’s bringing some new songs as well as old favorites and a few covers better than their original.

Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern

4:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Free flowers for the ladies and live music in the tavern by Graham Outten. Graham is a local talent with a great voice. This should be a wonderful place to be on Valentine’s Day.

Ocean Boulevard

Special 4-Course Dinner

On Valentine’s Day we will offer a unique Special Four Course Menu ($60 per person, $90 with paired wines) exclusively. The Valentine’s Menu itself is offered exclusively on Valentine’s Day. 

Zack Mexico Rocks Kelly’s Tavern

Zack Mexico performing at Kelly's Outer Banks Tavern Saturday night.
Zack Mexico performing at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern Saturday night.

Zack Mexico took a journey back to their roots on Saturday night, rocking the house at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern.

A local band that’s making a name for itself regionally, the founding members of the group all hail from Kill Devil Hills.

It was a great show and if nothing else, it certainly clarified the rumors of Kelly’s imminent closing are greatly exaggerated. Owner Mike Kelly has told local media that he is planning on selling the five acre lot that is home to the restaurant, but negotiations hit a snag and Mike has made it clear until there is a signature on a dotted line, the restaurant and bar is running full throttle.

A five piece band, Zack Mexico’s music has sort of a psychedelic punk rock sound. Except they throw in some other elements into their music.

They take the stage with three guitars and they use the guitars in their own unique style. They’re loud; they’re lyrics are sometimes off-color; and they are really good musicians.

In their arrangements, the band uses the guitars as another voice to backup lead singer, John Saturley. They’ll harmonize their guitar leads. Sometimes the guitar will play a counterpoint to the vocals.

Their distinctive sound and the quality of what they are doing is really helped by the drumming of Joey LaFountain.

Shaggy hair hanging in his face, he looks the part. More importantly, though, LaFountain is a really good drummer and it’s his pounding, innovative rhythms that drives the energy of the performance.

In short—this is a group of really good musicians who have found a voice in the music they are performing.

It’s not for everyone. This is pretty hardcore psychedelic punk rock—if that is a genre. It’s loud. The beat and the rhythms, especially in their live shows, is an incessant almost frenetic pounding.

But they are good, and if their style is acceptable, it’s a great show.

Publix Super Markets Outer Banks Bound

Publix Super Markets of Florida announced they will be opening a store in Kill Devil Hills.
Publix Super Markets of Florida announced they will be opening a store in Kill Devil Hills.

Confirming months of rumors, Publix Super Markets of Florida announced on Wednesday that they had signed a lease to build a store next to Lowe’s Home Improvement in Kill Devil Hills.

Speculation about who would be moving into the 5-acre lot had been the subject of speculation since Kill Devil Hills commissioners approved a site plan for a grocery store in September. Already zoned for commercial development, the site plan did not require a public hearing.

Although not confirmed until the announcement, the feeling was that the site would be a Publix. The developer, GHK, who applied for the site plan has built two stores in North Carolina for the Florida-based company.

Publix, with a reputation for excellent customer service and employee relations, joins a growing number of supermarket retailers on the Outer Banks. Scheduled for completion in 2018, when the store opens its doors, it will compete against the established stores of Food Lion, Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market and the Walmart Supercenter.

Publix may not be the only grocery retailer joining the Outer Banks supermarket mix.

In late August of this year, restauranteur Mike Kelly confirmed that he is in negotiations to sell the five acre lot that is home to Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern in Nags Head. When he announced the negotiations, he specifically refused to say who the suitor was but did state that the site would not be home to a chain restaurant.

Identical in size to the lot that Publix will be opening, the Kelly property would be one of the last large lots available for commercial development along US 158, the Bypass.

In his August statement Kelly indicated he felt negotiations would be completed by this month, but to date no further information has been offered.

According to Publix the store will be 45,000 square feet, which is currently the average size of a supermarket in the US. Tentative plans call for about 140 employees.

Christmas is Coming-Outer Banks Things To Do

Queen Elizabeth II at Christmas. Seen from Shallowbag Bay beside Poor Richard's in Manteo.
Queen Elizabeth II at Christmas. Seen from Shallowbag Bay beside Poor Richard’s in Manteo.

Christmas is almost here and our Outer Banks roads are filling up with out of state license plates. Of course some of the families from outside the area staying in our homes are the homeowners who have made coming to the Outer Banks for the holidays a part of their annual traditions.

This year is a little bit different than other years with Christmas falling on Sunday. The last time that happened was 2005, and when it does fall on a Sunday, a lot of our visitors take advantage of the week that schools are out and spend a week with us.

With a little midwinter time on their hands, a lot of our visitors might be hoping for a night out and even though it’s not summer, there are still things to do on the Outer Banks. Not quite as much as during the summer, but the sidewalks have not been rolled up.

Here’s a quick—and certainly incomplete—list of places that feature live music year around. Be sure to check their schedules to see if something is on tap and who will be there.


MP 4.5 Bypass, Kitty Hawk, NC


Huge wine selection, more than 30 beers on tap, wonderful cheese plates and sandwiches—there’s a reason why Trio has become one of the favorite gathering places on the OuterBanks.

Roosters Southern Kitchen

MP 8.75 Bypass, Kill Devil Hills


Great selection of bar drinks, very nice wine list and excellent food. The music is acoustic, a very nice, perfect for the atmosphere.

Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern

MP 10.5 Bypass, Nags Head


The original Outer Banks nightspot. There is almost always something happening in the bar—live music, DJs and karaoke an open mic on Tuesdays. This is the place to go to dance the night away.

Poor Richards

303 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo


On the waterfront in downtown Manteo, a great little bar with an almost college town feel when there’s live music. It can get really tight in the bar sometimes, but the beer is reasonably priced and the sandwiches excellent.

Mike Kelly Negotiating Sale of Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern


Ending months, if not a couple of years, of speculation, Mike Kelly announced he is in negotiations to sell the property where Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern is located. In interviews with local newspapers and online reporting, he stressed that nothing is imminent, but it is apparent that he is ready to move on after 31 years of providing great food and entertainment on the Outer Banks.

Mike pointed out in interviews that none of his children are interested in taking over his business and that he felt now that he was approaching retirement age, this was the time to start pulling back.

Although he is in negotiations, the restaurant and tavern is booked through New Years, so no matter what, nothing is going to happen right away.

There are a rumors but no hard facts about who or what will be moving into the five acre site. Mike has made it clear that it will not be a chain restaurant, but beyond that, anything is speculation.

What the next business will be will be come more clear when the first set of tentative plans are presented to the Nags Head Planning Board, although at this point in time, nothing is scheduled.

Still up in the air is whether there are any plans to sell the other two restaurants in the Kelly’s Group, Mako Mikes and Pamlico Jacks.


August Offers Exciting OBX Events

Watermelon seed spitting at Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon Festival.
Watermelon seed spitting at Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon Festival.

Wow! There is so much to do in August we can’t even list it all. Here’s a good start to all the great things there are to do but by all means, check locally for even more.

One of the great things about the Outer Banks is there seems to be something to do for just about everyone.

Some great music is coming to the area with John Michael Montgomery on August 4 at the Outdoor Pavilion at Roanoke Island Festival Park (RIFP). There is probably no better outdoor venue anywhere, so that gets a five out of five star recommendation.

For the outdoors people, check out the events at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Fun and educational, they are sure to be experiences that will be remembered.

And . . . there’s lots for kids to do with the 10th Annual OBX Watermelon Festival at Kitty Hawk Kites in Nags Head and a puppet show at RIFP.

Alligator River Refuge Van Tour

August 2, 16 7:00 am – 9:00 am

Creef Cut Trail Parking Lot, 5.5 miles west of Roanoke Island, Hwy 64 & Milltail Rd.

Join us for a personal tour through popular areas for viewing and photographing wildlife. Our two photographer leaders know the refuge. $30 per adult. $20 children 6-12. Limited to 5 participants. Reservation required. 252-216-9464 for reservations and details.

43rd Annual Senior Arts and Crafts Show

August 3, 4  9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

The Baum Center, 300 Mustian St., Kill Devil Hills

Sponsored by The Outer Banks Woman’s Club. Admission is $1.00- children 12 and under free. Proceeds from the show benefit scholarships and community projects.

10th Annual OBX Watermelon Festival

Jockey’s Ridge Crossing in Nags Head

August 4 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Enjoy games, food, face painting, tie-dye shirt making, arts and crafts activities, an inflatable waterslide, TONS of watermelon fun and more. Compete in classic competitions like seed spiting and watermelon eating. Benefits Outer Banks Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Coalition.

Movies On The Sound

Dusk, Weekly on Tuesdays

Town of Duck, Town Green

Although FREE, donations are appreciated to benefit Children @ Play, the films’ presenter. Blankets and chairs are encouraged.

August 2 – Maleficent

August 9 – Tangled

August 16 – E.T.

Lighthouse 5K

The Whalehead Club, Corolla

Wednesday, 8:00 am

Lace up your running shoes and see the sights. Add the fun of a run and fitness to your vacation joining us for a Summer morning 5k run/walk through the Historic Village of Corolla Light.

August 3rd

August 10th

August 17th

August 24th

August 31

Rainbow Puppets Children’s Show Really Big Dinosaur Show

August 3 – 5, 10:30 am – 11:30 am

Roanoke Island Festival Park- Indoor Theatre

It’s not called “The Really Big Dinosaur Show” for nothing… there’s a long-necked dinosaur that stretches out over 16 feet from nose to tail, there’s a nine foot tall T-Rex, and there’s a mountain that comes to life and begins singing a song. Tickets are $5/ ages 2 and younger-free.

John Michael Montgomery

August 4, 6:00 pm

Roanoke Island festival Park- Outdoor Pavilion

One of the best voices in country music comes to the Outer Banks.

Red Wolf Howling-Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Date: August 10, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Creef Cut Trail parking lot, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Hwy 64 & Milltail Road

Refuge staff/Red Wolf Caretaker offer you the experience of a lifetime! Come and learn about the endangered red wolf during a short presentation. Then journey to the heart of the refuge for an adventurous attempt to hear our captive red wolves produce their haunting sounds. Call 252-216-9464 with questions.

OBX Pirate Festival

August 10 – 11

Kitty Hawk Kites, Nags Head

Ahoy Mateys! Get ready for a swashbuckling good time as pirates and their friends invade Jockey’s Ridge Crossing in Nags Head.  Kids are invited to participate in a free Scalawag School to see if they have what it takes to be part of Blackbeard’s Crew!

Donavon Frankenreiter

August 22

Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern, Nags Head

Singer/songwriter and professional surfer, rforming from his catalog and latest album, The Heart. 

2016 BIC SUP One Design Series

August 25

Kitty Hawk Kites, Duck

BIC SUP is a series of stand up paddleboard races featuring BIC’s One Design race style SUP. This event is a fun and friendly competition. Brief clinics will be held prior to each competition. Registration and clinics start at 9:00a.m., Races begin at 10:00a.m. for most events.