Margaritaville Aims to Hang On After Jimmy Buffett’s Death

Jimmy Buffett, who died of most cancers on Friday, was many issues: a singer, a songwriter and a spokesman for tropical escape.

However past crafting music that impressed listeners to seize a chilly drink and take it straightforward, Mr. Buffett was additionally a businessman who turned his private model right into a sprawling way of life empire that included all the pieces from eating places and resorts to traces of merchandise comparable to at-home “frozen concoction makers” and cornhole recreation units.

Together with music gross sales and excursions, Margaritaville’s success helped propel Mr. Buffett into the billionaire ranks; in April, Forbes estimated his web value at $1 billion. Now, Mr. Buffett’s empire, named Margaritaville Enterprises after his signature track, should discover methods to maintain its enterprise with out its founder.

“On behalf of everyone (who works, visits or lives) in Margaritaville, we mourn the loss of Jimmy, a true national treasure, and express our heartfelt condolences to his family and everyone around the world who loves him,” Margaritaville wrote in an announcement posted on its web site.

Representatives for the corporate declined to touch upon its enterprise.

Within the days after Mr. Buffett’s dying, retail and advertising consultants mentioned his legacy would proceed to lure his followers — referred to as Parrot Heads, together with their kids, known as parakeets — and others to his companies.

“It’s definitely a lifestyle associated with him and his personality and his music that he created,” mentioned Barbara Kahn, a professor of promoting on the Wharton College on the College of Pennsylvania. However, she mentioned, as a result of his enterprise is “bigger than just that, it could definitely live on.”

Mr. Buffett’s authentic thought for Margaritaville was “to expand the opportunity for as many people to experience the lifestyle immortalized in his iconic song as possible,” based on the assertion on the corporate’s web site. The corporate had $2.2 billion in gross annual income final yr.

Most of Margaritaville’s income comes from licensing and franchising offers with varied ventures, usually with references to Mr. Buffett’s songs like “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” The enterprise is linked to greater than 100 eating places, bars, grills and “lodging locations” in locations as numerous as Ambergris Caye, Belize, and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., a brief drive from the Dollywood Theme Park, named for Dolly Parton.

There’s Latitude Margaritaville Watersound in Panama Metropolis Seashore, Fla., a deliberate grownup neighborhood of houses for these age 55 and up, and the Margaritaville Trip Membership by Wyndham on St. Thomas. There are luxurious condominiums and a cruise ship, in addition to a brand new podcast, “License to Chill.”

In response to Forbes, Mr. Buffett had an estimated 28 p.c stake within the firm, which is headquartered in Orlando, Fla. Margaritaville additionally has different buyers, together with personal fairness companies. The billionaire investor Warren Buffett — a longtime pal, however not a relative, of the musician — is an investor in Margaritaville by means of subsidiaries of his firm Berkshire Hathaway.

Final yr, the corporate mentioned its companions had invested, or dedicated to speculate, $7.5 billion in its hospitality actual property tasks.

Extra Buffett-related properties are coming, together with a restaurant in Boston. A resort lately opened in San Diego, as did a LandShark Bar & Grill in Miramar Seashore, Fla. However Margaritaville may danger overextending itself, Ms. Kahn mentioned.

“This is a lifestyle, and it’s a chill, fun island lifestyle,” Ms. Kahn mentioned, including that if it isn’t managed correctly, it “can be something that loses some of its esteem without the founder’s identity.”

The Margaritaville On line casino in Biloxi, Miss., closed simply two years after opening in 2012, after which sat empty for 9 years earlier than being purchased final month by one other resort firm. The final location of Mr. Buffett’s fast-food chain, Cheeseburger in Paradise, closed in Secaucus, N.J., in 2020; Mr. Buffett bought his stake to the restaurant operator Luby’s for $11 million in 2012.

In 2021, Margaritaville Resort Occasions Sq. opened in New York to nice fanfare. The $370 million property, which encompasses a 32-foot-tall reproduction of the Statue of Liberty hoisting a margarita glass, is owned by Soho Properties. Soho’s associate, IMCMV Holdings, leased the situation and struck a trademark license settlement with Margaritaville Enterprises.

In July, the resort entered Chapter 11 chapter proceedings in an try to cease a foreclosures public sale sale after Soho did not make a debt fee, based on courtroom filings. The lodge was valued between $266 million and $350 million as of Could, with revenues anticipated to exceed $25 million by the tip of subsequent yr — an indication of the property’s potential regardless of the pressures of the pandemic, based on the filings.

Soho Properties didn’t reply to requests for remark.

When reached on Sunday by telephone, a employee on the Occasions Sq. location mentioned individuals had been leaving flowers by the towering statue of a shiny blue flip-flop within the foyer as a part of a makeshift memorial to Mr. Buffett.

Lauren Hirsch contributed reporting.

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