Lucy Anne Buffett creates a stir with casual coastal dishes
“I don’t do whining,” says Lucy Anne Buffett, a hint of pure determination bracing her loose south-Alabama drawl. Owner of a little slice of dining paradise known as Lulu’s at Homeport Marina, in Gulf Shores, Ala., the younger sister of famed singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett serves up more than cheeseburgers. The boisterous Buffett has been offering fresh, local seafood specialties and other dishes in a lively atmosphere since she opened the joint that borrows her childhood nickname in 2003.
Her anti-self-pity sentiment was reaction to the massive BP oil spill that last summer threatened the area she loves. “At first, I thought, ‘They’ll cap that in a week.’ Then I got outraged, then heartbroken. But that’s life; anything can happen,” she says. “We made it through a hurricane and a recession, and I’m an optimist. So I walked my talk.” As a result, her business was hit, but it survived.
Armed with her positive attitude, Buffett pitched in to help, appearing in television ads to bring tourists back to Alabama’s white-sand beaches. She also helped coordinate the free benefit concert that Jimmy performed in Gulf Shores, which drew thousands of fans and lifted spirits. Her motivation, though, was deeper than protecting her own business. “This area means everything to me; it’s home,” she says.
Lucy grew up in nearby Daphne, Ala., on Mobile Bay, in a family that appreciated food as more than sustenance. “When Hurricane Fredrick was bearing down on the Gulf Coast, my dad, while rushing to get home from Boston, just couldn’t resist stopping for a box of the Maine lobsters he loved,” she recalls.
“When he finally did make it home, with the lobsters, an important part of his hurricane preparations was securing his grill, one of his most prized possessions.”
She knew the joy of eating, but after high school, as she was learning to care for her family, Lucy discovered a new passion. “That’s when I realized my affinity for cooking,” she explains.
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Use fresh Key or Persian limes or purchased lime juice in this sweet tastes of the tropics.