The Fat Pelican Voted #1 Dive Bar in NC and Top 25 in the Nation 2015


The legend of The Fat Pelican began in June 1986 when a visionary and pioneer, Jim Kelly, saw the future and knew that the island of Carolina Beach, NC had unlimited potential.  Jim Kelly was visiting Carolina Beach, NC from the Conch Republic of Key West and realized there were a lot of great similarities with the two islands.  When Jim first opened the business he did not operate as a bar, but as a beer and wine store to compliment the only Liquor Package store on the island.  He sold kegs of beer and wine and assorted beach sundries.  If you have been to The Fat Pelican one of the most popular things about the bar is the ‘walk-in cooler to select your own beer.  The cooler is a refrigerated trailer of an 18 wheel truck that Jim said he paid $2000.00 for when he had it delivered and installed originally.  The building itself is the only remnants of a garage that had burned down around 1951.  After The Fat Pelican was successfully operating for over six years, their neighbor liquor store moved and Jim Kelly was once again provided with a chance to show his vision.  Jim realized a change was needed and decided to start selling beer and wine to drink in house and in 1992 The Fat Pelican sold its first beer to consume on premises, and that is when the real fun began.

                While Jim Kelly was establishing the legend of The Fat Pelican he started a lot of great traditions that have carried on over the years and owners.  Jim started The Fat Pelican Bikini Contest that has become one of the most looked forward to events of the year on the 4th of July.  Jim set the precedent to always operate as if The Fat Pelican and all the customers are a big family and feed and host everyone.

After Jim Kelly decided to turn over the helm of The Fat Pelican a new legend and leader arose, Danny McLaughlin.  When Danny arrived in Carolina Beach and bought The Fat Pelican, he had just finished helping to run “Food 4 Sound” a catering business to rock bands out of Greensboro, NC.  Danny traveled and catered  for Van Halen, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and Hank William Jr., just to name a few (We)highly recommend asking to hear some band  stories if you ever talk to Danny).   Danny decided that traveling and catering for rock bands would be fun after he got back from two tours of duty in Vietnam where he served in the 1st Cavalry and survived being shot and thrown out of a helicopter.  After the Viet Cong and a rock star lifestyle did not get him someone tried to hire Atlantic City mafia hit men to take him out and failed in 2008.

                Danny continued and expanded on the traditions and spirit that Jim Kelly started with making the 4th of July Bikini Contest bigger and better and also hosting Halloween Contests and Barbeques to celebrated just about anything and everything imaginable.  Danny has opened The Fat Pelican Beach and continued to add to the best beer selection on the island.  Danny takes a great deal of pride in knowing that The Fat Pelican is open every day till 2AM and is welcoming to anyone and everyone who has the feeling of “Beer is Love” in their heart.    The Fat Pelican ambiance is what Danny likes to call “Beach Trailer Park Chic” and once you have a beer here you will agree.  The Fat Pelican has survived over 50 named storms and hurricanes over the 30 years of business including Hurricanes Bertha, Fran and Floyd.  One constant is always “Beer is Love” at The Fat Pelican.