NOV. 30 to DEC. 31
A new OBX tradition: The 12 bars of Christmas

By on November 12, 2023

From left to right: Chris Miller, current co-owner of Goombay’s; Todd Levy, Bar Manager and Head Elf at Jingle 12; Mark Ballog, Lucky 12/Jingle 12 Owner and founder of 12 Bars of Christmas; Tony Sipe, Goombays Co-Owner and Derek Boney, Jingle 12 elf.
Lucky 12 Tavern transforms into Jingle 12
Jingle 12 (Lucky 12 Tavern) added two igloos, a ski lodge, and an ice fishing shed in the backyard that private groups could reserve.
Lucky 12 Toys forTots event
Group outside Mama Klaus’s (Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar and Grill )
Bonzer Shack becomes The Broken Candy Cane.
The Broken Candy Cane has a Grinch theme.
People getting festive for the party bus tour to all of the Christmas pop-ups.
Jolly Roger Restaurant becomes Holly Jolly Christmas.
Holly Jolly Christmas Ugly Sweater Contest
Christmas themed cocktails at Goombrrrs (Goombay’s Grille and Raw Bar)
Santa at Goombrrrs.
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From left to right: Chris Miller, current co-owner of Goombay’s;  Todd Levy, Bar Manager and Head Elf at Jingle 12;  Mark Ballog, Lucky 12/Jingle 12 Owner and founder of 12 Bars of Christmas; Tony Sipe,  Goombays Co-Owner and Derek Boney, Jingle 12 elf.
Lucky 12 Tavern transforms into Jingle 12
Jingle 12 (Lucky 12 Tavern) added two igloos, a ski lodge, and an ice fishing shed in the backyard that private groups could reserve.
Lucky 12 Toys forTots event
Group outside Mama Klaus’s (Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar and Grill )
Bonzer Shack becomes The Broken Candy Cane.
The Broken Candy Cane has a Grinch theme.
People getting festive for the party bus tour to all of the Christmas pop-ups.
Jolly Roger Restaurant becomes Holly Jolly Christmas.
Holly Jolly Christmas Ugly Sweater Contest
Christmas themed cocktails at Goombrrrs (Goombay’s Grille and Raw Bar)
Santa at Goombrrrs.
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next arrow

Mark Ballog has owned Lucky 12 Tavern in Nags Head since 2006, but he has been working in Outer Banks restaurants ever since 1991. Every year, he watched as the sandbar went from a bustling vacation destination in the summer with hundreds of thousands of tourists waiting in line at restaurants to the dark, quiet winter months when restaurants are lucky to get enough customers to get through until the busy season starts again.

Historically, for restaurant workers on the Outer Banks, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break can be glum. “You’re just watching your staff’s hours get cut, you’re closing early, your servers and bartenders aren’t making any money, your kitchen folks, your managers, like everybody’s just getting by,” said Ballog.

That’s changing now with an idea that has grown to include 12 different Dare County restaurants and bars now plunging headfirst into Christmas spirit—from the décor and decorations to the food and drink. Not only will the 12 Bars of Christmas liven up a dark and quiet time of year on the Outer Banks, it could evolve into a real “shoulder season” attraction.

It began back in 2018 when Ballog went to Nashville and heard about some Christmas pop-up bars that had been surfacing around the city. He didn’t know what a Christmas pop-up bar was, but he found one. It was a bar in a hotel that had completely transformed itself into a Christmas wonderland—with a new name, a new interior filled with Christmas decor and a completely Christmas-themed menu with Christmas-themed cocktails and food.

“I walked in, and I was like, ‘This is unbelievable,’” recalled Ballog. I said, ‘I’m doing this next year.’ It just took my breath away.”

An antique collector, he spent the next year gathering all the vintage Christmas decor he could find. He asked his mom. He asked his friend’s parents. He posted on Facebook and Instagram and Craigslist. He went to yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores. His staff came up with a completely new menu filled with fun Christmas-themed cocktails with notes of candy cane and gingerbread. And in December of 2019, Jingle 12 was born.

Jingle 12 really worked, with sales for the month of December skyrocketing by 90% and his restaurant staff taking home tips rivaling the summer months. The community was also ecstatic about it. In 2020, he put two igloos, a ski lodge, and an ice fishing shed in the backyard that private groups could reserve. It was the perfect way people get out and do something during the holidays while social distancing, adding another level of comfort during the holidays during the COVID pandemic.

“People were really excited about it,” said Ballog. “There’s a lot of people here that don’t really have any families and stuff because a lot of people move here and, you know, December is not a very fun time for a lot of people if you don’t have a significant other or really close friends or family around. So, I mean, I think it kind of filled that void. And there is such a thing as spreading Christmas cheer…you know.”

Ballog thought if his restaurant was experiencing this kind of success, other local restaurants should be able to do the same. He started reaching out to fellow bar and restaurant owners, and last year more three establishments joined in. Bonzer Shack became The Broken Candy Cane, Goombay’s Grille and Raw Bar became Goombrrrs, and Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar and Grill became Mama Klaus’s.

This year, they are going all out with 12 different bars joining from across the Outer Banks, with the addition of Outer Banks Distilling (Deck the Hulls), Jolly Roger Restaurant (Holly Jolly Christmas), Jack Browns Beer and Burger Joint (Jack Frost’s), Two Roads Tavern (McCallister’s Corner), Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop (Poor Rudolph’s), Blue Crab Tavern (Sandy Claws), The Brewing Station (Christmas Vacation Station), and Blue Water Grill (Aww Shucks).

During the season, each business will completely transform into its own Christmas theme, with special events for all ages throughout the month, including holiday markets, kids’ crafts workshops, ugly sweater and adult gingerbread house contests, toy drives, Christmas karaoke, and more. Ballog created a presentation he gave to each owner, showing the financial investment involved and a step-by-step guide for everything they need to know to transform every aspect of their bar and restaurant. He’s been holding monthly meetings all year to get everyone prepared.

The 12 bars have also partnered up with OBX Party Bus to give VIP tours from place to place to with sign-ups available on their websites. There will also be a passport, available at each for purchase, where you can get a passport stamp at each location. Passports are $5 and each Christmas bar is picking a local charity to donate the money to.

“This whole place is gonna be like a Christmas Island,” said Todd Levy, Bar Manager and Head Elf at Jingle 12, “And it’s gonna be great for everybody…rentals will go up, we’ll make money. You know, this will kind of be a destination to come to like the Outer Banks as a whole with all this Christmas stuff.”

Levy has been working at Lucky 12 since before Jingle 12 started and was part of the staff that Ballog wanted to help bring in business for that original year. He says he’s definitely felt that impact personally.

“With December normally being quiet and slow, to go to doing July numbers and making that type of money – it’s definitely, you know, impacted it, and we…crushed it,” Levy said. “The top five busiest days in 2022, four of them were in December.”

Tony Sipe was a bartender at Goombay’s for 12 years before purchasing it with Chris Miller in March of this year. Sipe was one of the guest celebrity bartenders that Jingle 12 has brought in over the years. Last year, he was the bartender at Goombay’s when they transformed to Goombrrrs, with a North Pole theme, their logo being an old school yeti sitting on an iceberg sipping a drink, with lots of blue and white lights and a heavy focus on dining as well as the bar.

This year will be Sipe’s first year as an owner, running the show with Miller. He says what he really loved about doing it last year was the camaraderie and fun it brings for the network of restaurants, driving to Virginia together to get decorations and coming up with fun ideas together.

“It’s like a renewal of energy,” said Sipe, explaining that Ballog wanted everyone to be successful, so he was eager to help and encourage them. “It was just really, really, fun man, just like everyone kind of coming together with different ideas and decorating and things like that. It was just fun. That’s the best way to describe it.”

Scott Smith, owner of Outer Banks Distilling, is one of three spots in downtown Manteo that will be joining the fun. It will be transformed into Deck the Hulls pop-up with a traditional Roanoke Island Christmas theme, featuring nautical heritage and will be releasing specialty rums throughout the month.

“I was flattered they reached out to us to be a part of it. You know, we try to work with them every year pushing cocktails with our rum and now that we can have the bar here over in our distillery, it just made perfect sense to be a part of it to try to spread some over here to Roanoke Island,” said Smith. “I think it’s really good for the whole Outer Banks to really give people a reason to come here.”

According to Lee Nettles, executive director at the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, the Bureau has been present at the monthly planning meetings and plans to add it to a larger program of Outer Banks Christmas events they are bundling together at obxmas.org.

“And certainly 12 Bars is something that we’re happy to add to that list. And we think it’ll be real appealing,” offered Nettles. “I think it’s bound to have a positive impact on visitation in December. We’ll just have to see what the extent of it is. But I certainly think it’ll add to the overall appeal and charm of the area for the holidays for sure.”

The roster for the 2023 “12 Bars of Christmas” is as follows:

Visit the 12 Bars of Christmas website for a listing of events.

 


BIDDER PRE-QUALIFICATION REQUEST:

Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


 


Sussex Development is soliciting bids to turnkey supply and install FF&E for the new Tulls Creek Elementary School, 125 Campus Drive, Moyock, NC27929. This project is a new ground-up 2-story, Pre-K thru 5th grade school, approximately 118,000 square feet. Bid documents may be obtained through Christopher West Interiors LLC. Request bid documents via email to interiors@cwiusa.com. Pre-Bid RFIs will be accepted via email until Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 5:00PM EST. Pricing proposals are due Wednesday, August 14, 2024 by 5:00PM EST. All bids and inquires to be sent to interiors@cwiusa.com. Certified NC Hub, MBE, WBE, DBE, SBE are highly encouraged to participate. Sussex Development is an EOE and maintains a drug-free workplace.


 



Comments

  • Jim

    Going out and getting hammered at bars is exactly what the holiday season is about and I wish we could communicate to the entire world that this is truly what our community values.

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 6:46 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Bah Humbug, Jim.

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 8:31 am
  • Liz

    Hey Jim!

    Here we go again

    Did you actually read the article? Did you read the article of Nov. 10 about the same subject? You’re obviously making an awful lot of assumptions.

    Directly from the article, “During the season, each business will completely transform into its own Christmas theme, with special events for all ages throughout the month, including holiday markets, kids’ crafts workshops, ugly sweater and adult gingerbread house contests, toy drives, Christmas karaoke, and more.”

    It’s NOT just about getting hammered!

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 9:10 am
  • bob

    People get hammered 365 days a year. The 12 Bars of Christmas is a theme to celebrate Christmas. Good on them. Just Drink Responsibly. Call cab or uber…

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 9:55 am
  • Steven

    BUSH beer =

    Because
    U
    Surf
    Hatteras

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 10:24 am
  • Jim

    Pick a side Mark, don’t get ad sales mixed up with responsible journalism (again)

    https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aouterbanksvoice.com+alcohol+arrest

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 10:37 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Now, I get it Jim. Because over-imbibing alcohol can in some cases lead to bad, and even fatal events, a bunch of well-known local businesses that sell alcohol and have found a creative way to celebrate the season, should be roundly condemned for trying to corrupt the Outer Banks and get everyone hammered. Things seems pretty black and white for you.

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 12:47 pm
  • Bobby

    Same story back again. Is this news or advertisement?

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 11:08 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    News Bobby, but you don’t have to read it if it upsets you.

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 12:42 pm
  • Dan

    Jim needs a Snickers bar… and a drink

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 11:31 am
  • Bobby

    There sure is a lot on negative comments coming from the Voice against anyone who has questioned any part of this program or the reporting on it. Have we lost our objectivity?

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 3:17 pm
  • Charles

    This is fantastic!

    For those not interested in having fun, stay home.

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 4:20 pm
  • Arthur Pewty

    I, for one, salute the efforts of local bar owners and media to destigmatize drunk driving.

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 6:26 pm
  • John Reston

    I hope these ‘Please-Support-Our-Local-Business-In-The-Off-Season!’ have a nicer ‘ornament’ than they did last year. Anyone else kinda SMH at this insult?

    Christmas season 2022 – Visit 6 local joints, spend a bunch of money, get your passport stamped, and then receive a dollar store-ish, oven baked Shrinky Dink-like plastic joke of a reward for your loyalty and hard-earned money. What a rip off – they should all be ashamed. I suppose that it was so successful that many more bars & restaurants signed on for this year. ‘Tis the season to be greedy.

    Fool me once.

    Monday, Nov 27 @ 7:39 pm
  • kdh back seat reviewer

    The real story here is the Blue Crab Tavern participating.

    All other thoughts will stay inside this coconut.

    Tuesday, Nov 28 @ 5:52 am
  • Greg Honeycutt

    In reading the article my first thought was what a Great idea and the more Restaurants involved the better. The period after Thanksgiving to before Christmas has always been a slow period. A boost for those in the industry and good for the Outer Banks. I’m sure alot of Families will head out to the Restaurants participating. I don’t think it’s about going out and getting”hammered”.

    Tuesday, Nov 28 @ 6:13 am
  • Charles

    Last I checked you can go to these bars and just get soda or water. Imagine being responsible
    and still having fun ?

    Tuesday, Nov 28 @ 9:17 am
  • Arthur

    Jim- I dont thing the OBX is the place for you. people drink at bars. people drink at restaurants. people drink on the beach. people drink by the pool. people drink on boats. maybe utah would be better for you

    Tuesday, Nov 28 @ 9:38 am
  • Steven

    Looking forward to bringing the kids to these Christmas festivities

    Wednesday, Nov 29 @ 7:01 am
  • bchgrl

    Some people literally have nothing better to do than sit on the computer and criticize criticize criticize and complain complain complain. This is just a fun story about small businesses celebrating the holidays and trying some creative new ways to make money for themselves and their employees! If you don’t like it don’t read it. If you don’t want to go out to restaurants and bars and eat and drink or not drink and be merry, then stay home. But please just stop criticizing other people who like to have fun or run a profitable business and put out an online newspaper. Go for a walk on the beach. Volunteer. Take a deep breath. It’s all going to be OK!

    Wednesday, Nov 29 @ 1:28 pm
  • Liz

    Mark,
    When are you going to include a “like button” for comments? Hint hint! Many times I’ve wished for such. Example – the previous comment by bchgrl.

    Wednesday, Nov 29 @ 4:31 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Not in the cards, this is a comment page, not a Facebook page.

    Wednesday, Nov 29 @ 5:07 pm