LuLu’s at Homeport Marina is the famous restaurant owned by Lucy Buffett, musician Jimmy Buffett’s sister. Although the food and live music may be the main attraction, this brightly colored building means much more to the residents of Gulf Shores, Ala.
Amidst a slue of unforeseen circumstances and unfortunate events, such as major hurricanes and the BP Oil Spill, Lulu’s has become a beacon of hope for even the weariest of Gulf residents. Aside from the live music and grub, this restaurant manages to provide locals with something more valuable—friendship.
Last spring, as bad news spread about the effects of the oil spill, Gulf residents were left wondering what would happen to their ocean, their seafood, and their livelihood. As news stations and publications warned of the onslaught of oil heading for the sugar white sands, vacationers steered clear of the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a devastating loss in revenue to businesses along the Gulf beach communities.
So just as the region was gearing up for summertime, which is prime season for families to visit and vacation in Gulf Shores, the news reports began speculating about the massive amounts of oil sure to blacken the water and sand. Travelers began backing out of their hotel and beach house reservations. For the residents of Gulf Shores who own and/or work in restaurants, hotels, shops and attractions, their busy season was suddenly nonexistent, and so were the profits.
Upon visiting the quaint beach town of Gulf Shores almost nine months after the BP oil spill, there is little to indicate the devastating hit the residents took last summer. Instead, sweet southern hospitality and good ol’ honest roots continue to run deep in this town. But just below the surface, the residents are still recovering from the vast personal impact of these natural disasters.
Lucy Buffet and her general manager, Johnnie Fisher, knew all too well what this loss meant to the region. In the midst of the chaos and confusion, Lulu’s stepped up to the plate for it’s customers and neighbors, providing help and hospitality.
Buffet and Fisher organized the “One Love, One Ocean” campaign to help raise spirits and money to restore the Gulf Coast. They developed a line of charity t-shirts and products, donating the proceeds to support scholarship programs at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and restoration research at University of Southern Mississippi.
Additionally, LuLu’s became a symbol of optimism for Gulf Shores residents. The restaurant took on the feel of family for locals who feared for the future of their community. Fisher observed that in the midst of the long, drawn-out oil spill, it wasn’t uncommon to see servers hugging their customers or having heart to heart conversations.
Restoring the Gulf Coast from the effects of the Oil Spill is a long process, and Gulf Shores residents are still coping with this national disaster. But in the midst of the healing process LuLu’s continues to welcome everyone with open arms.