×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jimmy Buffett Cashes in on ‘Margaritaville’ Brand With Restaurants, Spirits, More

Jimmy Buffett earned the following mention in Variety’s Music Mogul of the Year special. For more, including the cover story on Sean Combs, click here

Before Jimmy Buffett, “rock ’n’ roll” and “leisure” hardly counted as overlapping industries. British rockers might have done photo shoots at their lavish country estates, but publicly, for the most part, the essential rock maxim remained: Never let ’em see you not sweat. But it was Buffett’s genius — as a businessman, if not necessarily an artist — to play down the shiftlessness of some of his early beach-bum character studies and play up relaxation as an aspirational lifestyle. Cut to now, when Margaritaville, the company named after Buffett’s sole No. 1 pop hit, brings in between $1.5 billion and $2 billion annually.

The singer-songwriter’s last studio album, 2013’s “Songs From St. Somewhere,” debuted at No. 4, not bad for a pirate looking at 66 at the time. But as income streams go, new — and even catalog — recordings count as an asterisk on a pimple on the empire the singer has amassed as one of music’s savviest branding kings. In 2016, Forbes declared Buffett America’s 13th-wealthiest celebrity, with a net worth of $550 million, so Spotify royalties are the least of his concerns. Margaritaville’s physical locations clearly attract more than just hardcore Parrotheads; the company’s 70-plus restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, casinos, cruises and vacation rentals draw more than 20 million visitors each year. And no one need leave home to experience a piece of Margaritaville when there are tequilas, rums, lagers, iced teas, shrimp, tortilla chips, clothes, shoes, bedsheets and pool and tailgating accessories designed to make the most landlocked hovel seem downright Gulf Coast-adjacent.

The ancillary branding began modestly but early with the 1987 opening of the first Margaritaville restaurant in Key West; it took until 1993 before they got around to a second location. Now there are 32, and that’s not counting the three Air Margaritavilles in airport terminals, nine Landshark Bar & Grills, seven Cheeseburger in Paradises and seven 5 O’Clock Somewhere bars. There are two casinos and the hotel/resorts are up to eight, with eight more on the way in the coming years, including a 234-room, 29-story property set to open in 2020 in beachy Times Square. If the danger remains that Buffett’s fan base might age out of the leisure sector, there’s some accounting for that with two planned retirement communities for the “55 and better” set, with Latitude Margaritavilles being developed in Daytona Beach and Hilton Head that promise a Buffett-esque headspace 24/7/365/∞.

Jimmy Buffett
CREDIT: Autumn Whitehurst

Not everything he touches turns to golden sand. His jukebox musical, “Escape to Margaritaville,” had more trouble finding crowds after opening on Broadway in March than it did in landing out-of-town tryouts; after sliding down to a reported 33% of its potential gross and zero Tony nominations, it posted a closing notice as of July 1.

Apparently, “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” is not the perfect 11:00 number after all. It will go on as a road show in October and plans to tour through 2019, but the message is clear: Buffett fans aren’t sure why they need to experience a hero finding the bliss of sea air in a theater when they can book a resort stay for their own latitude- and attitude-changing interactive theater.

More Music

  • Spice Girls Open Reunion Tour in

    Spice Girls Open European Reunion Tour With Inclusivity Proclamations, Sound Issues

    Posh Spice chose not to be included, but there was a lot of other inclusivity to go around as the four other Spice Girls opened their reunion tour in Dublin Friday night. “We welcome all ages, all races, all gender identifies, all countries of origin, all sexual orientations, all religions and beliefs, all abilities,” they [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    Billie Eilish Fans to Receive Perks Due to Chicago Venue Change

    Billie Eilish and her music agents at Paradigm are experiencing what most would call a first class problem. The demand to see the 17-year-old singer live has prompted a change of venue for her June 9 show in Chicago — from the 5,000-capacity Aragon Ballroom to the 20,000-plus-seat United Center arena. The last-minute venue change [...]

  • Moby Natalie Portman

    Moby Accuses Natalie Portman of Lying as the Two Spar Over Dating Claims

    In what’s become a he said/she said spat in multiple mediums, Moby, the elder statesman of electronic music, is now accusing actress Natalie Portman of lying and pleading to those on social media for his safety as “physical threats from complete strangers” emerge. To recap: this month, Moby released a new book, “Then It All [...]

  • Ellen DeGeneres Buys Adam Levine’s Beverly

    Adam Levine Cashes in on Sale of Max Mutchnick’s Former Mansion to Ellen DeGeneres

    Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo have sold a baronial Beverly Hills mansion with an illustrious chain of ownership for a reported $45 million to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. The mainstream radio rock star, who, it was announced Friday, will not to return as a coach on “The Voice,” and the Namibian-born Victoria’s Secret [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content