Lauded and beloved for its appetizing Caribbean-inspired fare and lively atmosphere, North Beach Bar & Grill has been serving Tybee for the last three decades — a major accomplishment for a business in the hospitality industry, which is known for its unpredictability. To celebrate this monumental milestone, the grill is giving back in a big way with their inaugural Ho Ho Holiday Pop Up.
Owner George Spriggs was looking for a way to drive traffic to his business during the off-season while celebrating the community that has consistently supported him over the years. The conceptual seed for the holiday pop up was planted after a conversation with a marketing friend, Toren Anderson.
“She [advised] that the way to do that is not through just promoting the grill. Actually, that should be the last thing we do. [Instead] we need to promote the place where we are, and that’s Tybee Island. So the pop up came about as a way to celebrate not only our 30 years of business there, but to celebrate all things Tybee,” said Spriggs.
He wanted to do something unique that the island hasn’t seen before, and with Anderson’s help, NBBG was transformed into a winter wonderland for their first holiday pop up, which officially kicked off Sunday, Nov. 12 and lasts through Friday, Jan. 12. During that time span, guests will be dazzled by the grill, which is decked out with thousands of twinkling lights, and more than a dozen decorated trees hanging from the rafters. Festivities include Christmas karaoke, merry mixology classes, live musical performances and a tragic Christmas story open mic night where attendees can share their most harrowing holiday tales.
A particularly exciting event is the christening of a brand-new, life-size manatee, which a local artist created and donated to the grill.
“A manatee is our logo; it’s our theme. And she has created this 7-foot manatee that she will be presenting to the grill. We will run a contest for the naming of that manatee,” said Spriggs.
While the Ho Ho Holiday Pop Up is all about spreading Christmas cheer, Spriggs wanted to ensure that giving back was paramount. So he is using the celebration to promote and help fundraise for local island charities.
“We’re highlighting four of the main nonprofits that are a significant part of Tybee Island and the local community: the Tybee Island Lighthouse, the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, the Tybee Post Theater and the Greater Savannah Humane Society,” he said.
Each nonprofit will have its own Christmas tree on display at the grill as a part of a friendly tree decorating competition. Visitors can vote for their favorite tree, while also receiving information about each organization and how to donate and volunteer. The winning nonprofit will receive a coveted cash prize. In addition to the competition, the nonprofits will present a special offer or festivity during the pop up. The humane society will bring adoptable puppies to NBBG for guests to interact with, and hopefully bring home, and the marine science center will offer free admission to families who attend the pop-up. Tybee Island Marine Science Center’s Director Chantal Audran said this holiday pop-up is the first event to bring Tybee’s nonprofits together in this way. A lunch arranged by Anderson allowed nonprofit leaders to meet about the holiday pop-up, an opportunity Audran greatly enjoyed.
“I’d only met them once before that and so it was a really sweet opportunity to get together, have some lunch and laugh. We’re all really hard workers and very busy. There were some businesses on the island that didn’t have the greatest year, but all of the nonprofits had a record-breaking year. So because of that, we’re exhausted and tired from all of our awesome hard work, so it was sweet to get together and commiserate,” said Audron. “We never really had that moment because we’re always grinding. It’s a sweet moment to group us in together, and then when we were decorating the trees, that was another great moment where we could tease each other and have a nice, healthy dose of competition.”
Audran is thankful for the opportunity to get in the holiday spirit and benefit from the support of Spriggs, Anderson, and the Tybee community.
“Now we can focus on having fun and getting a little generosity given our way. It’s great,” she added.
She encourages the public to come out and participate in the grill’s holiday pop up festivities because it’s a wonderful way to show support for local nonprofits.
“We are so happy because it gives us exposure for a small nonprofit that’s growing. These kinds of events are great for visibility and exposure, so we’re really grateful to George for kind of being Tybee’s Santa right now,” Audran said.
Much like Mr. Claus, the concept of giving is not foreign to Spriggs.
“I was brought up in a family and an atmosphere and culture where that concept was instilled in us. . . You know the old adage, ‘it’s better to give than to receive,’ we took that seriously. I grew up seeing my parents . . . live by that. If someone was in need, it didn’t really matter what your situation was, if you had any capacity to help, you answered that call,” he said.
Naturally, Spriggs set out to ensure that NBBG’s 30th anniversary was centered on giving back to the community that has sustained him through the years.
“If we can create a more favorable vision of Tybee for those who don’t know of it, for visitors, we will in turn benefit from it, and that way, it’s not all about us. It’s about the place in which we find ourselves, a place in which we’re earning our living and doing what we do. It’s about promoting and presenting that to the outside world,” said Spriggs.
The Ho Ho Holiday Pop Up is just one phase of the Grill Gives Back campaign, which will continue into 2024. Spriggs has plans for a Valentine’s Day pop up and special programming for St. Patrick’s Day as well as festivities surrounding Tybee-centric events like the annual Beach Bum Parade. He also plans to continue to promote and partner with local organizations that contribute to the community, particularly those that don’t get much recognition, “whether it’s the 4-H center or one of the churches, or the charter school system out here.”
He looks forward to more years of serving good food, providing a great atmosphere, and giving back to the island and the people who have supported him:
“Having a business, especially one that has existed as long as we have, especially in this industry, it does not happen without the people. We make the commitment that we will do our very best, that every time you visit the grill, it’s at least as good as it was the last time you visited. And if that was enough to bring you back, we will try very hard to make sure we exceed it every time. Just keep coming.”North Beach Bar & Grill will host their Ho Ho Holiday Pop Up Celebration through Jan. 12. For more information about the festivities and an event calendar, visit northbeachbarandgrill.net/.