LuLu’s Destin is Fun for People of All Ages
LuLu’s in Destin is much more than a restaurant, it’s an experience. Perfectly located on the Choctawhatchee Bay at the foot of the Mid-Bay Bridge right next door to Legendary Marine, LuLu’s is a vacation destination that just so happens to also be a delicious Destin food spot. LuLu’s is owned by Lucy Buffett, sister of legendary musician Jimmy Buffett. Live music and a wonderful atmosphere is an every-day-thing at LuLu’s in Destin.
The 30A Prime Team recently had the opportunity to talk with Michael Butler who is the General Manager of LuLu’s Destin. Michael shared his story and the story of how LuLu’s Destin came to be with us and for that we are extremely grateful. So without further ado, we give you our interview with LuLu’s Destin General Manager Michael Butler.
Conversation with Michael Butler GM of LuLu’s Destin
30A Prime: Thanks for taking time to speak with us today Michael. What is LuLu’s Destin all about?
Michael: Lulu’s is kind of an experience… From the outward perspective, it appears to be a restaurant but I like to think we’re much more than just a Destin food spot. LuLu’s is a place where families come to have good food, have fun and create memories. We have a sandy beach for all the kids to play on, great food, live music so it’s kind of an experience for people to come and enjoy.
30A Prime: Please tell us about Lucy Buffett and the type of person she is.
Michael: Lucy Buffett, she has a lot of different facets to her. She’s a very interesting lady. For example, Lucy is a writer and has written several cookbooks. She moved to Hollywood to dabble in the film industry for a while but eventually went back to Alabama in the late 1990s and she opened up Lucy’s Sunset Grill in 1999. That was her first stab at the restaurant business and it was very successful.
I’ve known Lucy Buffett for a long time and she’s had a huge influence on me. I’ve very proud of the fact that Lucy loves to hire from within the organization and I kind of consider myself a little bit of her Cinderella story. I started out in 2006 as a bartender and kind of clawed my way up the management ladder.
Becoming a general manager was always something I wanted. Managing my own LuLu’s was a goal and when we came to Destin I was able to accomplish it. So… Just to have an owner and a boss that believes in you so much that you can really come from the bottom and make it to the top of a company as far as this entity here it’s a really satisfying and proud thing. I appreciate Lucy very much for the opportunity.
30A Prime: When did LuLu’s open in Destin, Florida?
Michael: Lucy was very particular, she was waiting for the right opportunity for her next restaurant. When she was presented with this opportunity here in Destin, Florida she jumped on it and we opened June 15, 2015.
30A Prime: Tell us about your seafood menu and about LuLu’s being part of the Fish Trax Marketplace program.
Michael: Being here on Florida’s Gulf Coast we like to feature our local seafood and we are proud to be part of the Fish Trax program. Take the Red Snapper we sell for example… When you order a Red Snapper dish it comes with a QR Code that you can scan with your smartphone and see exactly where that fish was caught out in the Gulf of Mexico. You can see the boat that it was caught by and that it tracks it all the way to here. It also gives you a little Bio of our chef in the kitchen so that’s something we’re very proud to have in place here at LuLu’s Destin.
30A Prime: Tell us about some of the other stand out menu items here at LuLu’s including desserts.
Michael: We feature our own smoked pork and smoked tuna dip that we do here and of course, you have to have a cheeseburger in paradise when you’re part of the Buffett family. So we have some awesome Cheeseburgers here at LuLu’s as well.
A few of our desserts we have here include… We have our Brownie in Paradise which is kind of a staple. We have an awesome Bread pudding made out of Krispy Kreme donuts. Of course, everybody’s favorite is our Key Lime Pie.
30A Prime: How often do you feature Live Music at LuLus?
Michael: Here at LuLu’s Destin we have live music every single night no matter what time of year it is. During the summer it’s 6 pm to 10 pm and during the offseason, we do it a little earlier 5 pm to 9 pm. So every night you can count on the fact there’s going to be live music here at LuLu’s.
30A Prime: You have an amazing location here on the bay in Destin. In addition to driving your vehicle, what are some other ways people can visit LuLu’s?
Michael: You can come by land, you can come by air, you can come by water. You can drive your boat up right in front of LuLu’s and anchor and wade in. The water is only about 2 feet deep and we have stairs that make it easy to get to the restaurant.
30A Prime: It seems like Gumbo is a big part of LuLu’s Destin. Is that a correct assumption?
Michael: Yes, our Gumbo is awesome. Lucy’s latest cookbook is called “Gumbo Love” and it’s something that has always been very close to her heart. Not only as a food dish but as a philosophy, taking ingredients from everywhere and making it part of who you are and what your essence is all about. Gumbo Love is kind of our motto around here. Gumbo is definitely a big part of the culture here at LuLu’s and not only the food but also the concept and the idea of it.
30A Prime: When we first walked in LuLu’s Destin we noticed what appears to be a really cool gift shop. Please tell us more about the store.
Michael: We have a great merchandise shop here at LuLu’s. You can get stuff such as hats, t-shirts, toys for the kids, beach towels and all kinds of other stuff. We also have something a little more upscale in our boutique section where you’ll find nice jewelry and clothing items. You’ll also find both of Lucy’s cookbooks in our merchandise store.
30A Prime: Please tell us about the “Go Online to Get in Line” option we see on the LuLu’s Destin website.
Michael: During the summer we do get very busy here at LuLu’s Destin. Therefore, we have a few options in regards to putting your name on the waitlist. Of course, you can just come in, put your name on the list and wait for your table to be ready. We also have a “Go Online to Get In Line” option which is unique. The way it works is that, after we have reached about a 40-minute wait time, a widget will activate on our website where you can actually go in and put your name, number of people in your party, and we’ll put you on the waitlist from your condo or your home or in the car as you’re driving here.
30A Prime: It seems like LuLu’s is a great place to host events. Is that a correct assumption?
Michael: Here at LuLu’s Destin we are very, very event heavy. We love to do events such as Billy Claus in December. Billy is Santa Claus’s brother and he lives in the Carribean on Christmas Island. He stops by LuLu’s via Seaplane and picks up all the kids letters to go up to the North Pole. So Billy Claus picks up those letters for his brother Santa on his way up to the North Pole and he visits LuLu’s every year to get a cup of Lucy’s Gumbo.
Another great event we host here at LuLu’s is our “Noon Year’s Eve” party. On New Year’s Eve day, we do a countdown to noon instead of midnight. Our Noon Year’s Eve party here at LuLu’s Destin includes a huge Beachball Drop, clowns, zoo animals, crafts, face painting and all kinds of fun stuff. So we love doing events for the kids and we’ve become very popular for them and they’ve become a kind of “can’t miss” thing.
30A Prime: Please tell us about the atmosphere and this amazing property that LuLu’s resides on.
Michael: We’re here in Destin, we’re on the wide-open waters of the Choctawhatchee Bay right next to the Mid-Bay Bridge. It’s a really nice peaceful, relaxing feeling here on the bay. Often, we’ll see dolphins swimming by and lots of boats. We refer to the activity on the bay as our “natural theater” here at the restaurant. It gives people a feeling of escapism. Sitting on our patio or at our outdoor bar you just immediately feel at ease and it’s a wonderful place to spend time. So please come see us at LuLu’s on the Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, Florida.