Q&A with Restaurateur Lucy Buffett - 30A



Q&A with Restaurateur Lucy Buffett

Music may run in Lucy Buffett’s familial blood, but the gumbo runs even deeper. Also known by her childhood nickname, LuLu, Lucy says two key ingredients helped her become the successful restaurateur that she is today.

“First, I am Southern—and not just Southern, but Coastal Southern,” said Lucy. “And second is my love of food, cooking and entertaining.”

The “Crazy Sista” of singer Jimmy Buffett, Lucy was born in Mobile, Alabama, where her parents worked tirelessly at the local shipyard to put the kids through school. Following a criss-crossing of her own careers and adventures in New York, New Orleans, the Caribbean, Key West and Los Angeles, Lucy returned to her Alabama roots in her 40’s, opening a “bait shop and burger joint” called LuLu’s Sunset Grill. There are now three famous LuLu’s locations, including Gulf Shores, Alabama, Destin, Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

We recently sat down with Lucy – LuLu, if you will – to learn more about this Crazy Sista’s outlook on food, family and life.

Which dish or recipe instantly brings you back to your childhood?

That is easy. It is the gumbo. I spent summers with my Pascagoula, Mississippi grandmother. She made seafood gumbo every Friday and we ate it all weekend long. The house would smell of roux for days and learning to make gumbo became a “rite of passage” for the grandkids. 

What are the essential items you need for a no kiddin’ Southern Coastal breakfast?

Crabmeat Omelets, Grits and Grillades, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Ice Cold Watermelon. 

What’s the best thing about owning a restaurant?

The greatest thing about owning a restaurant is seeing how happy people are when they have had a great experience. Also, when we are busy and it is humming, it is a delight to see the crew execute the LuLu’s experience with so much grace and expertise.

What’s the hardest thing?

Managing people is the hardest thing about owning a business. With a restaurant, there are also so many time-sensitive plates in the air. There is a lot of stress. But after a shift that has been a really busy but great one, there is such a sense of accomplishment! That is sweet.

You provide an escape for countless fans and customers. Where do you go when you need to escape?

My escape is to Key West. I lived there in the mid 1970’s and always dreamed of being able to retire there. I get there for several months during the Winter but truthfully, I generally do take my work with me. The restaurants are pretty much all-consuming. 

Who are your heroes?

My mother, my father and my siblings. They have all given me great gifts.

You will be alone on a deserted island for one full week. You get to take 3 things with you. What do you pack?

An ice chest with food and drink, a comfy tent, something to start a fire, a great book, and a journal with a pen. You did say 5 things, right?

To learn more about Lucy Buffett, visit LuLu’s or follow them on Facebook.

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