End of an era – Mako’s closes in a month

By on September 28, 2021

October 27 will mark the end of an era — or maybe two — in the history of Outer Banks restaurants. That will be the last day of operation for Mako’s Beach Grille + Bar in Kill Devil Hills, the last Mike Kelly-owned restaurant to close its doors.

The first one was Kelly’s signature Outer Banks Restaurant and Tavern in Nags Head that was bought by German-based grocer Lidl in 2017. In 2019, the Dare County Tourism Board approved the purchase of Kelly’s other Nags Head restaurant, Pamlico Jack’s. Earlier this year, Dare County announced it was buying Mako Mike’s from Kelly as part of a project involving a new county Emergency Medical Services (EMS) facility as well Kill Devil Hills public safety facilities. According to reports, the three properties sold for a combined total of almost $9 million.

Kelly, who bought Mako’s back in 1994 with the late Frank Gajar when it was operating as a steakhouse, still retains his catering business. And when asked what’s next for him with the restaurants closed, he responded that, “If I had one person a day ask my what I’m planning on doing, I’ve had twenty.”

Kelly, 71, made it clear he’s hasn’t plotted out his coming activities in detail, but he did say that “I’d like to do a bit of traveling across the U.S.”

Kelly also acknowledged that operating in a pandemic has proven challenging to restaurateurs forced to cope with uncertainties ranging from the size of the visitor contingent to the availability of restaurant staffers. He noted that the 2021 tourist season was an extremely busy for Mako’s and the Outer Banks in general, and one that started early.

It was Memorial Day, and then “all of a sudden people were coming down here,” Kelly observed.

Mako’s is currently having a liquidation sale, with anyone interested asked to come by and take a look.






  • Czarina

    You’ve done well for OBX and yourself, Mike. Safe travels!

    Tuesday, Sep 28 @ 5:28 pm
  • Lory

    Seems to me the county couldve bought 100 other parcels of land other than Mikes. But the good old boys stick together and take care if each other so really, whats new? Sold Kellys, made a zillion (then the town screwed Lidels cause certainly they couldve made an exception like if ol Mike had wanted a glass front restaurant the town wouldve most definitely approved it), then Pamlico Jacks that once again cost a mint but was the perfect spot for the tiwn festival park (like once again, 20 other parcels couldnt have worked for this purpose just as well), now Mako Mikes. Maybe ol Mike couldve developed some housing for the folks who built his businesses instead of going for 3 for 3? Just saying…

    Wednesday, Sep 29 @ 7:18 am
  • Lucas

    Another loss for the Outer Banks! All 3 of his restaurants were such cool buildings with even cooler décor. I still miss going in Kelly’s and since Lidl hasn’t done anything with that location, I wish they would sell to someone who would open it back up as a restaurant.

    Mark, what is the latest on the plans for the Kelly’s location? I had heard at one point that Lidl wasn’t going to build a grocery store since they could reach an agreement with Nags Head since they wanted to build their signature glass front building. I’m glad that Nags Head hasn’t allowed them to build that.

    Wednesday, Sep 29 @ 8:33 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Lucas, good question. We periodically make inquiries about the status of that property and are told nothing is new. The last time we checked, which appears to be about a year ago, Lidl’s had officially put it up for sale. Time for us to check again.

    Wednesday, Sep 29 @ 10:17 am
  • Cliff Blakely

    Lory, have you ever noticed were the current EMS station is. Right behind Mako’s. Same location fo over 40 year. Oh, and the KDH fire station I have the next lot to the north. Mako’s makes a perfect for the town to build a public safety facility. Have you ever considered that Mike was smart to buy and own LARGE pieces of land, run them as excellent restaurants and then to sell them after 40+ years in the biz. BTW, he had some employee housing behind Kelly’s. Jealous?

    Wednesday, Sep 29 @ 12:23 pm
  • Mary

    @ Lory…If you want to call Mike Kelly a “Good Old Boy”, you’re exactly right. He was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina. He came to the Outer Banks many, many years ago with a vision. Mike worked hard, invested wisely and became very successful. He has served on countless civic associations and donated generously to many local causes. He is well known in Dare County because of his many interactions and contributions to this community.
    I have a few questions for you:
    1. Where are these 100 parcels of land the county could buy? Or even 20?
    2. Why criticize a person that invested their own money in land and businesses and then decides to sell them?
    3. What exactly is a “zillion”? The article clearly states the combined amount of the total property value.
    4. Where were you during your grammar lessons on apostrophes?
    “Just saying…..”

    Wednesday, Sep 29 @ 1:35 pm
  • Alice Ann Hengesbach

    @mary Well said. Mike Kelly has worked hard, made good decisions and given back since day one.

    Wednesday, Sep 29 @ 7:24 pm
  • Czarina

    Lory — next time, get the facts before you spout off. Shortly after Lidl’s got approval for their plans, they announced they were canceling their expansion plans for the East Coast.

    Wednesday, Sep 29 @ 8:13 pm
  • JB Elliott

    What ever happened to the surfboards that were hanging in Kelly’s bar?

    Thursday, Sep 30 @ 8:35 am
  • Dee

    I thank God for Mike Kelly and I pray 🙏that take his hard earned money and do just what he said travel the world 🌎and see what ever he wants because he earned he has been working for a long time it is time to enjoy life live and love and be blessed one day at a time enjoy the fruits of his labor take money the 🏃‍♂️.

    Thursday, Sep 30 @ 3:38 pm
  • Deborah Thompson

    Congratulations Mike Kelly and safe travels! Stop by if you are traveling out West-Montana is spectacular. We thank you for all the wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations our family enjoyed!
    The Thompsons

    Saturday, Oct 2 @ 11:20 am