Outer Banks Boil Company's EPIC Summer Vacation Retreat Giveaway and Commitment to Community

By Molly Harrison | Thursday, April 25, 2024

Outer Banks Boil Company’s low-country boils provide one of the most enjoyable ways to eat dinner on the Outer Banks. The food is excellent – fresh shrimp, clams and crab legs, Andouille sausage, potatoes, corn on the cob and onions all steamed together in a big steamer pot – but it’s really more of an experience than a meal. Whether you pick up the pot and steam it yourself or hire them to cook, serve and clean up, when you dump all the steamed goodies from the pot onto your paper-covered table, this is about more than eating. It’s about gathering and bonding with friends and family over good food.

The founder of Outer Banks Boil Company, Matt Khouri, and his staff get to witness this family bonding all the time: big smiles and laughs, memories and stories flowing from vacationers who are relaxed and enjoying a night in with their family.

Happy family memories like these are exactly why Matt founded Outer Banks Boil Company. Growing up, his family vacationed on the Outer Banks every year and a low-country boil on the beach was part of their annual tradition. When Matt went to college, his senior project was a business idea for Outer Banks Boil Company. It took a while to get the business fully off the ground, but now Outer Banks Boil Company is in its 13th season and going gangbusters with three Outer Banks locations (Corolla, Kitty Hawk and Hatteras) and six other locations from New Jersey to Florida.

As the business has grown, Matt and his mom, Denise, who works with him as Chief Marketing Officer (aka Chief Mom Officer), have always had a desire to give back to their Outer Banks communities. This led Outer Banks Boil Company to establish its own 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2023. Known as Our EPIC Project – EPIC is an acronym for Emit Positive Impact Collectively – the nonprofit is a way for Outer Banks Boil Company to put its commitment to the community into action.

With an underlying focus on mental health in all aspects, EPIC has a mission to strengthen mental health initiatives, support the entrepreneurial spirit and share the best of the Outer Banks with deserving families.

“We are so fortunate that Outer Banks Boil Company has done so well,” says Denise, who is president of EPIC. “We have an incredible opportunity to give back and are so excited to do so.”

Photo: Chris Sawin of Outer Banks Community Foundation (left) accepts a check from Matt Khouri and Denise Khouri of Outer Banks Boil Company and Our EPIC Project for an OBCF endowment fund.

Strengthening Mental Health Initiatives

EPIC’s initial goal was to help coordinate community initiatives such as Mental Health First Aid. This globally recognized program has helped train more than 3 million people how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives skills needed to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.  

In May 2023 EPIC held its first training in conjunction with Trillium and certified 11 community members (there are now 20 mental health first aid responders in Corolla alone). In the fall of 2023, they offered and conducted a virtual QPR-Question, Persuade Refer Suicide Prevention class as part of National Suicide Awareness Month. In December of 2023, Denise received certification as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, which will allow more availability and flexibility to provide training opportunities in the community. In 2024 EPIC is looking to expand its efforts with mental health initiatives and hopes to implement a Mental Health Scholarship Fund to assist those who might not otherwise be able to afford treatment.

Matt was inspired to start mental health initiatives because of the first-hand experience of losing friends to the effects of mental health crises.

“I have seen far too many friends pass away, whether it was suicide or overdose,” he says. “I know that what we are doing with EPIC will help save a life.”

He points out the simple fact that many people do not know about 988, the number that anyone in a mental health crisis can call for help.

Photo: Our EPIC Project's first entrepreneur relationship was with Holden McOwen of Kiiind Cocktails.

Supporting Young Entrepreneurs

Matt was once a young entrepreneur with a dream, and that has made him want to help others grow their dreams. EPIC’s first opportunity of working with an entrepreneur was with Holden McOwen of Kiiind Cocktails. Kiiind provides cocktail catering and in-home cocktail mixology classes from Corolla to Hatteras. Not only did EPIC help Kiiind with its digital assets for promoting its business, they also added Kiiind to Outer Banks Boil Company’s menu of services. So now you can enjoy catered cocktails or a fun mixology class along with your low-country boil.

Sharing the Outer Banks

Matt says his customers are the best part of Outer Banks Boil Company. Going into people's homes and serving them has introduced him to so many people, many of whom have been repeat customers for the last 12 years. Being a big part of family vacations made Outer Banks Boil Company want to share a similar family bonding experience with others.

“At the Boil Company, we get to be a part of so many summer vacations,” says Denise. “Across the Outer Banks we might have up to 40 catered events a night. For every one of those families we get to serve, there are so many more out there for whom a summer beach vacation does not even cross their mind as a possibility.”

In spring of 2023 Outer Banks Boil Company asked its customers to nominate a deserving family that could use the benefits of an old-fashioned family summer beach vacation, which they billed as a week-long mental health retreat.

Photo: The three sons of the Demetrakis family, winners of the 2023 EPIC Family Vacation, enjoying an Outer Banks Boil Company meal.

They had a lot of entries but could only choose one winner – and that was Kasey “Kas” Demetrakis and her husband and three sons. Kas had recently lost two very close family members to cancer when she herself was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. EPIC was able to give Kas and her family an incredible week full of fun, relaxation and lasting family memories. You can see pictures from the Demetrakis family vacation here.

“At Our EPIC Project we know the value of a family vacation is not only the fun had and the memories made, but it’s great for mental health,” their website says. “Taking a family vacation reduces stress, increases serotonin levels and provide an opportunity for families to connect. Being able receive these benefits without the financial burden is where Our EPIC Project steps in.”

Nominate a Winner for the 2024 Vacation

In 2024 EPIC is giving away another one-week mental health retreat. The recipient will stay in a gorgeous five-bedroom house in Corolla with a private pool and hot tub, an elevator, an X-box and access to Corolla Light private community amenities. Once the family is chosen, EPIC will put together a menu of activities, from horse tours to mini golf to water sports and museum tours. Meals, including an Outer Banks Boil Company feast, will be included. To nominate a family, click here.

You Can Help

To learn more about or to support Our Epic Project, click here.

Denise and Matt point out that they have a lot of people helping them behind the scenes, from their staff and customers to all the businesses, sponsors and community members who supported their fundraising golf tournament on April 19.

“We get the lead the charge, but we have a band of followers helping along the way,” Denise says.

Look for much more to come from EPIC in the coming years.

“It’s part of our DNA at Outer Banks Boil Company to give back and be a friend of the community,” Matt says. “EPIC will expand and grow.”

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of OuterBanksThisWeek.com. She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks.