Jimmy Buffett: The Story Of His Food Legacy

Jimmy Buffett in concert
Jimmy Buffett in concert - Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

As Parrotheads across the globe mourn the loss of their forever Mayor of Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett, we wanted to look at the icon that left a mark on the planet with more than his self-proclaimed genre of Gulf and Western music. The billionaire musician, songwriter, philanthropist, and entrepreneur spread his gospel of carefree living to as many people as possible with his 31 albums and 45 tours spanning a 50-year career. And as well-loved as he was as a musician, he may be even more respected as a savvy businessman, particularly the culinary empire he amassed.

All it takes to sense his affinity for good food and drinks is a look at the titles of many of his songs. Oeuvres like "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "I Wish Lunch Could Last Forever," "Dreamsicle," and the legendary "Margaritaville" all reference food, but his foodie legacy goes beyond the lyrics. Indeed, "Margaritaville" has the reputation of being the most lucrative song ever written if you factor in the restaurants, resorts, beverages, and more that all grew out of this iconic ditty. Pour yourself a tropical delight as we look at how this charismatic crooner became a prolific pioneer of epicurean delights.

Read more: Celebrity-Owned Restaurants That Are Actually Well Worth It

Margaritaville Cafes

Margaritaville in Grand Cayman
Margaritaville in Grand Cayman - Robyvannucci/Getty Images

While the original classic "Margaritaville" was released in 1977, it wasn't until 1985 that it became a brand that launched a multi-billion dollar empire. That year, the first store opened in Key West, Florida. This was followed by the first restaurant just two years later, in 1987. The empire has grown to more than 25 locations across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean.

Each restaurant is unique, featuring casual dining and a dizzying array of tropical-themed cocktails in a colorful, seaside-inspired environment. The ambiance is loud, festive, and nostalgic, with the energy and music of Jimmy Buffett permeating every corner. Menu items include a wide assortment of fish and seafood dishes, Cajun-themed items, and, not unsurprisingly, plenty of Burgers in Paradise, featuring variations like garlic bacon and cheddar BBQ.

For those not near a full-service restaurant, a small slice of the island life can be enjoyed at one of several Air Margaritaville outlets. These are located in airport terminals in Florida, Michigan, Mexico, Jamaica, Panama, and Puerto Rico. These have somewhat pared-down food menus but plenty of Margarita recipes to feed your inner Parrothead.

Margaritaville Hotels, Casinos, And Resorts

Margaritaville Island Hotel
Margaritaville Island Hotel - Margaritaville Island Hotel

Why stop at a restaurant when you can build hotels, casinos, and resorts? Ever the savvy businessman Buffett was, he saw the opportunity to expand his global lifestyle brand, which is what he did. The first Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola, Florida, opened in 2010. The first Margaritaville Casino appeared in 2011 at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. The first resort, in Hollywood Beach, Florida, came on the scene in 2015.

Since then, the barefoot elegance promoted by the lifestyle brand has caught on like wildfire, with more than 20 lodging locations and growing. These resorts feature the crème de la crème of entertainment, food, gaming, water sports, outdoor activities, and fun for big and little Parrotheads alike. Several resorts sport quirky spots to grab a libation, like the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar and the License to Chill Bar. And for those looking for a more gourmet dining experience, book a reservation at JWV Prime Steak and Seafood restaurant.

If these options are not enough to satiate your need to capture a bit of the Buffett magic, try one of its all-inclusive resorts, RV resorts, timeshares, or cottages. And for those seeking something more permanent, luxury condominiums and over 55 and Better communities in Florida, South Carolina, the Bahamas, and Mexico make it possible for you to turn your dreams of full-time beach life into a reality.

Margaritaville Foods

Margaritaville Key West Chili shrimp
Margaritaville Key West Chili shrimp - Margaritaville Foods

Margaritaville Foods is the packaged and prepared food offshoot of the brand. These products are available online and in retail outlets nationwide. Margaritaville-themed items such as chips, salsa, BBQ sauces, marinades, salad dressings, dipping sauces, margarita mix, sweetener, and water enhancers were designed to bring a taste of the islands into your home regardless of where you live or what time of year it is.

To make entertaining Parrothead-style even more carefree, the brand introduced a dizzying array of frozen seafood items that are quick and easy to take from freezer to table in no time. You'll find coconut, battered, scampi-style, and Jerk shrimp as well as calamari and cod. Each can be served as an entrée or appetizer at your next party. Just don't forget to have your Jimmy Buffett playlist cued up to help set the mood while your guests partake of the spicy queso and cucumber margaritas.

LandShark Lager, Seltzer, And Bar & Grill

Landshark Lager on the beach
Landshark Lager on the beach - Landshark Lager

If the name LandShark sounds familiar, you may recall one of Buffett's most well-known concert moments, which involved a particularly rousing rendition of the song "Fins." Before the performance began, concertgoers would create a symbol in the shape of a fin with their hands they would display over their heads. Meanwhile, Buffett would shout, "The LandSharks are coming!"

Named for this song, the beer itself was developed by Anheuser-Busch as a competitor to Corona. It was introduced during one of Buffett's concerts in Tallahassee, Florida, on February 10, 2007. While reviews for the beer were initially unenthusiastic, the brew quickly became popular among Parrotheads seeking more than a brand. They were looking for a way of life, and this beer was a part of how they would inhabit it.

The celebrity beer paved the way for a seltzer water by the same moniker, produced by Waterloo Brewing. These tropical-flavored malt beverages, which come in flavors including Passion Fruit Strawberry, Lemon Lime, and Pineapple Mango, promise to "put some fizz on your fin."

And because Buffett never did anything small, the name carried over into a successful chain of restaurants known as LandShark Bar & Grill. These casual eateries inspired by beach bars that dot the Atlantic Coast are located within several Margaritaville Resorts across the U.S., Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

Margaritaville Tequila & Spirits

Margaritaville Spirits Logo
Margaritaville Spirits Logo - Margaritaville Spirits

The slogan for Margaritaville Tequila & Spirits is "Escape your world. Relax in ours." This offshoot promises its consumers that they will find Margaritaville in these spirits, no passport required. Its tequila is distilled from premium blue agave and produced in Arandas, located in Jalisco, Mexico. The gold tequila is redolent with pear, apple, prune, and green grass. The silver tequila is more citrus-forward, with hints of black pepper and a smooth smokiness.

This line also crafts a tequila infused with exotic fruit liquors, including mango, passion fruit, coconut, tangerine, and lime. These are intended to be consumed as is or as part of a tropical-inspired mixed drink. It also produces a Triple Sec, ideal for adding an orange flavor to your favorite cocktail.

No beverage catalog would be complete without hand-crafted, premium rum options. Margaritaville offers a Silver Rum, which is on the sweeter side and oozing with vanilla flavors. The Dark Rum is slightly more sophisticated. Produced in the Caribbean, this has a rich sweetness filled with elements of molasses and brown sugar, finishing bold with oaky undertones.

Its ready-made offerings are a Classic Margarita, Classic Mojito, Passion Fruit Margarita, Mango Margarita, Skinny Island Punch, Skinny Margarita, Golden Margarita, and Mai Tai. All of these ready-to-drink options are crafted with Margaritaville premium tequilas and rum. There is something for every palate in this extensive liquor catalog.

Margaritaville Cargo

Margaritaville Bahamas Frozen Drink Machine
Margaritaville Bahamas Frozen Drink Machine - Margaritaville Cargo

Now that you know where to purchase the finest tequila and rum from Margaritaville, you will need a great blender to create those fruity tropical cocktails. Buffett thought of this and came up with the idea of a line of party machines for home drink-making called Margaritaville Cargo.

The name sounds deceptive, but it is the umbrella under which you can purchase the Margaritaville Key West, Margaritaville Bahamas, Margaritaville Bali, and Margaritaville Tahiti Frozen Drink Machines. Each of these units offers different features that make them unique. The Key West unit has an extra large ice reservoir to produce three servings at a time and an easy pour spout. The Bahamas unit has ingredient measurements on the side of the container to help you create the best mixed drinks.

If you like to entertain a crowd, you may want to consider the Bali unit, which has an extra large ice reservoir designed to make up to 60 ounces of your beverage of choice and a handy self-pour spout. Finally, the Tahini unit has three independent 24-ounce pitchers that can make identical or distinct beverages.

While all the units are sleek-looking and promise the ultimate in entertaining, they will set you back a pretty penny. Depending upon which you are looking at, one of these drink-making devices will cost you a couple hundred bucks. Reviews for these luxury brand-name blenders are overwhelmingly favorable, making the hefty investment feel less intimidating to produce Parrothead-worthy concoctions.

Island Tea

Jimmy Buffett's Pineapple Coconut Island Tea
Jimmy Buffett's Pineapple Coconut Island Tea - Tradewinds Jimmy Buffett's Island Tea

In 2015, manufacturer Tradewinds Beverage Co. partnered with Margaritaville Enterprises to introduce a line of Jimmy Buffett-inspired tropical-flavored iced teas. Jimmy Buffett's Island Tea sought to provide you with an escape to a tropical oasis with just one sip of its exotic libations. These originally came in five flavors: Pineapple Coconut White Tea, Peach Mango Black Tea, Tropical Citrus Green Tea, Paradise Punch Hibiscus Tea, and Strawberry Lime Black Tea.

These teas were made with all-natural ingredients and designed to complement the slow-brewed drinks that were the bedrock of the Tradewinds line. The packaging was carefully cultivated with Caribbean sensibilities, capturing the carefree and relaxed vibes characteristic of its namesake.

Tradewinds Beverages Co. was acquired by beverage conglomerate Purity Organic in 2020 to expand the brand into more diverse markets. The company, located out of Oakland, California, specializes in producing organic teas, coconut waters, juices, and sparkling beverages, making this merger logical. Unfortunately, the expansion may have been curtailed by the onset of the pandemic, as there are currently no retailers selling Jimmy Buffett's Island Tea.

Cheeseburger In Paradise

Cheeseburger in Paradise
Cheeseburger in Paradise - Cheeseburger in Paradise

Another of Buffett's forays into the restaurant industry was his joint venture with OSI Restaurant Partners, owners of the successful Outback Steakhouses chain. In 2002, Margaritaville Holdings LLC and its powerhouse partner opened the first Cheeseburger in Paradise location in Indianapolis, Indiana. The restaurant, while similar in ambiance to its big brother, Margaritaville Cafes, sought to capitalize on the cheeseburger theme in a more concentrated way, offering countless iterations ranging from a Guacamole Bacon Burger to the kind of cheesy Oh So Gouda Burger.

In 2009, the chain was sold to Paradise Restaurant Group, LLC. At this point, Buffett's investment was markedly reduced, foreshadowing the eventual fate of the restaurant empire. For a while, the chain thrived, eventually expanding to 38 restaurants across 17 states. By 2012, the chain once again sold to Luby's Inc. This company started shuttering restaurants and converting some underperforming locations into Fuddruckers restaurants.

As sales began to dwindle and the chain became a burden on Luby's empire, reducing their profitability by $2.3 million, more locations began closing. The last remaining holdout in Secaucus, New Jersey, met its ultimate demise in 2020. While part of this may have been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chain was already doomed from the get-go, lacking some of the excitement and luster captured by Margaritaville Cafes. A sad statement on the chain's website read: "Thank you for supporting Cheeseburger in Paradise. All of our restaurant locations are now permanently closed."

Margaritaville At Sea

Margaritaville at Sea
Margaritaville at Sea - Margaritaville at Sea

"To me, the only thing better than being on a beach by the ocean is to be on the ocean." Jimmy Buffett loved the open seas. In his honor, Margaritaville introduced a new resort experience encompassing everything Parrotheads love about his iconic lifestyle in 2022. The Margaritaville at Sea Paradise is a cruise ship featuring 10 passenger decks and 659 cabins with staterooms of all types.

Amenities aboard the cruise line include a casino, theater, nightclub, spa, fitness center, pools, hot tubs, retail, and fine dining. Food and beverage options include a buffet, Fins dining, which is the ship's primary dining room, a Cheeseburger in Paradise Burger Bar located in the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, Frank & Lola's Pizzeria, a JWB Prime Steakhouse, the Margaritaville Coffee Shop, and in-room dining.

This ship offers a 3-day/2-night cruise departing from Palm Beach, Florida, and making its way to the Grand Bahama Island. If the boat does not have enough to keep you occupied, shore excursions and activities are available at an additional cost, including Girl's Night Out and Pints in Paradise packages. And do not forget to book one of the numerous beverage add-ons. You do not want to miss out on unlimited tropical libations while cruising to paradise.

Margaritaville Tropical Punch

Margaritaville Tropical Punch Variety Pack
Margaritaville Tropical Punch Variety Pack - Anheuser-Busch

In 2022, Anheuser-Busch announced its collaboration with the Margaritaville Alcohol Beverage Trust, introducing Margaritaville Tropical Punch. This is the most recent offering from Anheuser-Busch's Beyond Beer portfolio, which features Cutwater Spirits, BABE Wine, NÜTRL Vodka Seltzer, and RITAS. The Beyond Beer portfolio recognizes the growth in popularity of flavored malt beverages, making this new drink a perfect fit.

These island-inspired malt beverages seek to put consumers in the ultimate vacation state of mind. Margaritaville Tropical Punch comes in three fruity flavors: Mango Peach Paradise, Strawberry Daiquiri, and Beach Breezy, which combines passionfruit, pineapple, and orange flavors in a fizzy, refreshing drink. Each beverage contains 4% ABV, making it potent enough to create a pleasant, relaxing buzz.

These beverages are made with pure cane sugar and natural flavors. They are sold in 12-ounce bottles, cans, and multi-pack combinations at select retailers nationwide. With these brightly colored, elaborately labeled malt beverages, vacation is just a sip away.

'Margaritaville: The Cookbook'

Margaritaville: The Cookbook
Margaritaville: The Cookbook - Margaritaville: The Cookbook

"Margaritaville: The Cookbook: Relaxed Recipes for a Taste of Paradise" is the first official cookbook released by the Margaritaville empire. The fully illustrated book, published in 2018, features 125 international Margaritaville-inspired recipes and a forward written by Jimmy Buffett.

The masterminds behind the recipes in this book include Chef Carlo Sernaglia and New York Times bestselling author Julia Turshen. Sernaglia became the Margaritaville brand's concept chef after globetrotting exploring cuisines featuring farm-fresh ingredients, distinct flavors, and an ocean-to-table approach. Julia Turshen is a New York Times bestselling cookbook author who has written for multiple publications, including the Washington Post and Vogue. Additionally, she hosts a podcast and is on the Kitchen Cabinet Advisory Board for the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

The concept behind this book is that Margaritaville is located everywhere and nowhere. It is a lifestyle, a vibe, a call to relax, eat good food, and enjoy the company of others. This book contains dishes from countries across the globe, like Coho Salmon in Lemongrass-Miso Broth and Tuna Poke with Plantain Chips. It also has a healthy section dedicated to tropical-inspired libations, like Paradise Palomas and a Cajun Bloody Mary. This book is sure to become well-worn by both Parrotheads and foodies alike.

'The Essential Book Of Boat Drinks'

The Essential Book of Boat Drinks
The Essential Book of Boat Drinks - The Essential Book of Boat Drinks

A boat drink is generally considered an alcoholic beverage served on a sailing vessel that often, though not always, contains rum. The term is often associated with one of Jimmy Buffett's most famous tunes, "Boat Drinks" from the album "Volcano." The song describes a person living in the city working too hard and dreaming of a simpler life where they can be warm, relaxed, and free of hardship. The analogy further describes what can only be characterized as the essence of the lifestyle perpetuated by Jimmy Buffett. One that is carefree and lives in the moment, enjoying all the simple pleasures in life, like sipping an alcoholic beverage while sitting on a boat.

"The Essential Book of Boat Drinks: & Assorted Frozen Concoctions" is an homage to this song and the underlying lifestyle it seeks to promote. Author Olaf Nordstrom spent several years aboard a sailboat, living the carefree life of which Parrotheads reading this book dream. The book, printed in hardcover and paperback, was originally only available for sale at Margaritaville stores and on its website. Its distribution has since expanded to include numerous other resources, including Amazon, where anyone wanting a taste of the boat life can buy a copy and start making libations to help transport them to a more laid-back time and place.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.