Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Makes Relaxing, “Wasting Away” a Breeze
Some years ago, the New York Times published a fantastic article talking about how Jimmy Buffett, one of the richest musicians on this planet, with a net worth north of $900 million, has become the same "Man" he used to retaliate against in his early days as a singer. It's a struggle not unique to Buffett, but glaring given his exorbitant net worth.
It's the same problem Bruce Springsteen wrestles with, singing working class anthems to people who paid an upwards of a grand to see one of his storied concerts.
All that being said, I've long been a fan of Jimmy Buffett's "gulf and western" brand of music. When vacationing in Minneapolis this past weekend, and visiting the Mall of America, I didn't know I'd stumble upon Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant, one of many different franchises Buffett founded and oversees. Growing up, we had a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant near my hometown, but that whole franchise went belly-up a few years back.
Buffett's island brand of escapism has always been something I've loved, even living in land-locked states my entire life. I pried my friend away from shopping for about 45 minutes and insisted we check it out. He's embarked on less desirable adventures with me before, so a layover in Margaritaville was palatable enough for him.
You really feel like you're in a different environment when you enter a Margaritaville restaurant. The eatery's nautical theme is curated to the point where you almost feel like you're at a vacation lodge. The menu is loaded with island-esque options like "Volcano Nachos," "Louisiana Cajun Shrimp and Grits," and "Jimmy's Jammin' Jambalaya." Reading the menu options makes me wish we opted for food.
Alas, it was five o'clock somewhere that Sunday afternoon.
I opted for two delicious boat drinks, one of which bearing the name of that mid-2000s Buffett duet with Alan Jackson, which has since become a staple T.G.I.F. song. The 5 O'Clock Somewhere beverage has almost as much liquor as a long island, except it's a unique take on a hurricane. The description reads:
Give me a Hurricane before I go insane! Margaritaville Silver Rum and Paradise Passion Fruit Tequila, Cruzan® Hurricane Proof Rum, orange and pineapple juice, our house sweet & sour and a splash of grenadine. Served on the rocks
It's as delicious as it looks, and the pineapple slice is the perfect way to finish it off!
I chased it with a beverage called "Tranquil Waters," which looked like ocean water in a glass. Rest assured, it tasted far better than that description suggests. A concoction served on the rocks, it mixes Cruzan® Mango Rum, Blue Curaçao, pineapple juice, and mango for a refreshingly sippable drink. The two drinks together only made walking a slightly more difficult process, I will add!
Par for the course with Margaritaville restaurants is a swanky gift shop with a plethora of shirts, hoodies, magnets, and other trinkets to choose from. Some of the apparel is quite tacky ("Wine O'Clock Somewhere," anyone?). I opted for a basic long-sleeve shirt with the Margaritaville wordmark and logo on the front and back, respectively. I can't wait to rock it during those chilly fall football Sundays.
I suppose the moral of this is that you can recognize something as a licensing gimmick and still appreciate it for what it is. You could do far worse in this realm, for one. And secondly, Buffett's famous desire to oversee his many businesses and strive to make them as authentic as possible reveals itself in ways both overt and subtle, at least at the Mall of America restaurant.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville is located inside Mall of America.