The Strangest Businesses in Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings Include a Retirement Community and Marijuana Strain

When you hear “Margaritaville,” you probably think of breezy summer days spent poolside with a drink in hand. But the business-related fight that sparked the now-popular term’s entry into the lexicon was anything but relaxing.

Musician Jimmy Buffett’s impressive net worth is bolstered by the entrepreneurial savvy to see the potential in crafting an empire around his popular song. The sprawling holdings under the Margaritaville umbrella certainly include some surprises. 

How Jimmy Buffett founded ‘Margaritaville’

Jimmy Buffett smiles at the Opening Night of The Jimmy Buffett Musical "Escape To Margaritaville" on Broadway in 2018
“Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett at the opening night of his 2018 Broadway musical | Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Jimmy Buffett’s song “Margaritaville” has become synonymous with relaxing vacations, an ode to a place where all the day-to-day worries fade away. The actual lyrics to the song might underlie something darker. “That frozen concoction that helps me hang on” suggests the speaker is less enjoying a vacation in paradise and more drowning sorrows in tequila. Still, the upbeat feel has made the tune a staple for vacationers and those dreaming of a beach as they stare at a cubicle wall. 

Buffett admits there is no real Margaritaville, but it isn’t entirely fictional. As the Arizona Republic reports, he explained, “There was no such place as Margaritaville. It was a made-up place in my mind, basically made up about my experiences in Key West and having to leave Key West and go on the road to work and then come back and spend time by the beach.” 

Released in 1977, the hit was originally intended to be a song for Elvis Presley, but Presley died before that could happen. Considering how synonymous Margaritaville has become with Buffett, it’s hard to imagine what would have happened if the original plan had gotten to play out. 

The song was so popular that Buffett soon found himself facing knockoff t-shirts of his own lyrics. He was frustrated that someone else was profiting from his work. Song titles cannot be trademarked, as Inc reports. But Buffett found that one restaurant had trademarked “Margaritaville” for a drink special, and another was using “Cheeseburger in Paradise” for their own promotions. Determined to be the one profiting from the phrases he’d made popular, Buffett got to work. 

It started with a t-shirt shop in Key West (fitting, as it was the location that inspired Margaritaville to begin with). From there, Buffett got the term associated with small cafes and eventually a chain of restaurants that became tourist attractions. These became Margaritaville Holdings, and the portfolio ballooned to include “over 30 hotels and resorts, and 150 restaurants, bars, and cafes. It also distributes Landshark Lager and Margaritaville Spirits.” 

Some more surprising and innovative assets include a foray into the burgeoning cannabis industry. The Austin American Statesman reports, “Coral Reefer is a brand controlled by Buffett, the singer and Palm Beach resident.” 

Jimmy Buffett is not living a life of lazy relaxation

It’s a bit ironic that Buffett’s name is associated with a veneer of lazy relaxation and slovenly indulgence. The musician, now 75 and certainly has earned a retirement if he wants, is still going strong in his business and music endeavors. 

A quick glance at the Margaritaville website shows that the expansive brand is working to capture a wide range of customers with everything from high-powered blenders to footwear to hotel stays. Meanwhile, Buffett continues to tour and perform for his adoring fans. His current tour schedule has him snaking across the western U.S. before heading to Antarctica for an exclusive performance in support of ocean conservation. 

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Jimmy Buffett Lied About ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ to Get Free Food

The busy lifestyle is a far cry from the lounging the singer is associated with, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. It doesn’t hurt that this focus on growth and sustained performance has amassed him a net worth of around $600 million.