Today Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Empire consists of restaurants, resorts, a casino, frozen shrimp, daiquiri frozen drink mixes, tequila, and even salad dressing. His 28% ownership in Margarita Holdings was worth around $180 million. The brand’s restaurants include not only Margaritaville, but JWB Prime Steak and Seafood, and 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, and is still growing. The Margaritaville restaurants with the tropical theme and laid-back vibe are what started it all, and they’re still going strong, with a new Boston location opening soon.
While Buffett’s Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chain is no more, there is another Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant that opened in Lahaina, Hawaii in 1989. Started by Edna Bayliff and Laren Gartner, the first location debuted in Maui and was so successful that the owners opened a second location in Waikiki, Honolulu. In 1997 Buffett tried to sue them for using his song title, but the business owners had already filed to trademark their restaurant in 1993. While Bayliff and Gartner told the Tampa Bay Times that “the song inspired us to open a cheeseburger restaurant.” Buffett alleged that he made an arrangement with them in the early ’90s, promising not to intervene if they didn’t expand. However, the owners didn’t recall making such an agreement when meeting with the musician.
The Hawaiian-based restaurants were allowed to keep the name but couldn’t use it for more locations. A year after the court battle ended, Buffett debuted his first Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant.