Five o’clock somewhere will be in Biloxi on May 22 when the ribbon is cut to start the party and open Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant. Once the VIP celebration gets under way at 5 p.m., the resort opens to the public at 8 p.m.
Buffett says he will be in Biloxi that day, said casino president Tom Brosig, but he’s saving some surprises for the opening.
There are still plenty of finishing touches to be completed before the $62 million resort makes its debut. Fifth Street, which will provide a tropical entrance to the resort, is nearly rebuilt and should get its first layer of pavement this week. Specially designed trolleys will bring customers from the 900-space parking lot to the casino.
“We have auxiliary lots for overflow and we will be using these,” said Adam Jowett, director of security and transportation.
Valet drop-off is underneath the raised building. The escalator from the lobby will bring customers to the entrance of Margaritaville Restaurant and Volcano Bar, where four times a day a “Biloxi Cutie” is ejected from a smoking volcano and slides down into the pitcher of green margaritas. The volcano is a trademark feature in Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants worldwide.
“Everything in here’s a lyric,” said Brosig.
Buffett’s songs of the sea are recalled with fishing and shrimp boats that will be fitted with booths to become coveted places to dine. A Blue Goose airplane hangs from the rafters, televisions are mounted in surfboards. Palm trees, a waterfall and torches carry the theme.
Tables can be pushed back after dinner to create a dance floor in front of the stage for the entertainment that is planned Wednesday through Sunday nights.
Overhead is a massive mural painted by a son of one of Buffett’s associates in a warehouse before being numbered and shipped to Biloxi to be reassembled like a giant puzzle, said Georgiana Barvié, public relations specialist for Margaritaville.
Brosig said they worked hard to keep a view of the Ocean Springs Bridge all the way to the back of the casino. “We didn’t create any walls,” he said. The retail shop to one side will feature Biloxi and traditional Margaritaville logo apparel. In the center of the building is the casino with 820 slots and 18 table games illuminated with custom-designed lime slice lamps.
Instead of creating a huge buffet, Brosig said, “We went just the opposite.” Feeding Frenzy Buffet has 125 seats and room for 125 more in the adjacent multi-purpose room that can seat 300 for banquets, 850 for boxing and 900 for shows with 400 seats in the balconies.
Outside are two levels of dining decks off the restaurant and a marina with entertainment, food and drink right along the water. Four Coast Transit Authority buses that were turned into food trucks will turn out grilled, roasted and broasted meals plus snacks for those who arrive by car or boat.
“This is going to be just a constant party out here,” Jowett said.
The Biloxi property is the first stand-alone Margaritaville Casino, and it’s built in the city where Buffett played his first professional gig. Brosig said about 24 investors are part of the project and 20 percent to 30 percent of them are local.
This is the ninth casino Brosig has opened. “I’m expecting big things for this property,” he said. Marketing started this week and the website goes live Friday.
Brosig said he believes the resort will bring other investment to that area of the city and draw Buffett fans who have never been to Biloxi before. Margaritaville radio station, which has 6 million listeners a day, will remote broadcast from the Biloxi casino, he said.
He also wants to impress Buffett with the resort.
“We’re hoping that he adopts this place as his favorite,” Brosig said.