Jimmy Buffett’s new $370 million Margarita Resort opens next month in NYC’s Times Square, but the “Margaritaville” legacy began in Austin at a six-bedroom Northwest Hills duplex you could’ve bought for $290,000 twenty years ago. It was on the deck that Buffett started writing his signature song after having his first (followed in quick succession by a few more) margarita at Lung’s Cocina del Sur restaurant in the Village Center strip mall on Anderson Lane.
The year was 1976 and that whole boozy bucaneers in tropical shirts phenomenon hadn’t taken off yet, so Jimmy and his Coral Reefer Band would stay at 6109 Shadow Valley Dr., the home of interior designer Victoria Reed and two other women, when they had shows in town.
After Cocina del Sur , Reed recalls Buffett sitting on the deck of her house that night strumming a guitar and singing some now-familiar words about flip-flops, pop-tops and a lost shaker of salt. “Jimmy sometimes jokes that, ‘I guess I owe you some royalties,’ ” says Reed, who met Buffett in 1975 when she emceed a party the band performed at in San Antonio. You have to wonder what path his career might’ve taken if he’d ordered a beer that fateful night in ’76. “Wasted away again in Coronaville” just doesn’t have the same right ring.
Lung’s Cocina opened at 2700 W. Anderson Lane in May 1973 after a decade at 5517 Burnet Road. A 1974 ad boasts 65-cent frozen margaritas. Though the margarita- tequila, triple sec, lime juice- has been around since the ’30s, the frozen margarita machine was invented in Dallas in 1971.
“Margaritaville” was a Top Ten hit in 1977, but has made much more money for Buffett as a restaurant chain, clothing line and now a 32-story Manhattan hotel, with attractions like the It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Lounge and the Cheeseburgers In Paradise Grill.
(Photo of Jimmy Buffett at Liberty Lunch by Scott Newton)