Donations pour in to keep iconic Carolina Beach bar afloat

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — One business has turned to something new to stay afloat. At Carolina Beach, The Fat Pelican is an institution.

The owner has been faced with tough times, and has tried something different to make ends meet.

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“During the season, it’s a little landmark for people coming down here,” Owner Michael McLaughlin said.

And for those who live in the Cape Fear. Could it be the quirky signs? The bar’s wooded photo sign? The quaint indoor displays? Or the vast selection of beers that have kept its loyal customers?

Whatever it is, the community has made it clear to McLaughlin that he is not fighting the battle to keep his business afloat, alone.

“It chokes me up, that’s what makes this bar…people…good people,” McLaughlin expressed.

He said the bills have continued to roll in, which is more than what he can afford to pay right now.

McLaughlin said his bar has lost more than $100,000 dollars since he has had to close his door.

He said he was forced to lay off his employees, which has left him with no choice but to put his beloved car up for sale.

“I love my car, and I love my bar, but I’d rather have my bar than have my car,” McLaughlin said.

Luckily he still has his car, and that is all because the community refused to see him and the business fail.

Loyal customers chipped in through the bar’s GoFundMe page, where they donated more than $14,000.

“The GoFundMe page just took off. In less than 12 hours, it’d already hit the $10,000 mark. That’s amazing to me.”

McLaughlin said though the support from the community has left him speechless, he felt compelled to walk away with the amount donated to the business from the weekend.

“I had to stop it, because that’s the right thing to do. I’m just only one out of a million right now,” McLaughlin stated.

The Fat Pelican was founded in 1982. McLaughlin said he has operated the bar now for about 20 years.

He expressed that The Fat Pelican has been voted one of the top 20 dive bars in the country.

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