‘It’s 5 o’ clock somewhere’ — and soon: Destin’s Margaritaville taking shape as opening nears

Matt Algarin
Destin's Margaritaville restaurant is slated for a Feb. 17 opening.

Destin's Margaritaville restaurant should make any Parrothead proud as its opening day nears.

"This is going to be awesome," Legendary Inc. CEO Peter Bos told The Log during a Saturday morning tour of the construction site. "It's going to turn the harbor upside down."

Walking through the roughly 15,000 square foot, three-story restaurant, one could easily imagine Jimmy Buffett's famed "Cheeseburger in Paradise" playing on the sound system and margaritas flowing from one of the many bars.

Whether it's the custom-made tables adorned with Buffett-inspired images or the nautical themed accessories, the restaurant is coming together. And don’t think that Buffet doesn’t know it.

“He’s been here a couple of times,” Bos said. “He’s real pleased with the restaurant.”

When entering the restaurant from the upper level at HarborWalk Village, guests will immediately be greeted by a giant buoy, a plane suspended from the ceiling, and if they look directly over the doors, a boat that was repurposed after being purchased from a 70-year-old military veteran in Tallahassee.

As for the restaurant’s design, there were plenty of moving parts.

"It's a collaborative effort," Bos said of putting together a project like Margaritaville. "If you have a great contractor who can think on their feet, a great architect and a developer that has a vision, this is what you get."

Joe Dougherty of Dougherty Architecture, Camilo Giraldo, project manager for Legendary Inc., and Wade Howell, of Howell Ventures are just a few of the faces behind the project.

Dougherty said it took the team about four to five months to complete the design phase, which is about average for a renovation project.

"It's nice to see everything come together," he said.

Prior to becoming a Parrothead’s haven, Margaritaville was home to Tightlines and the famed Lucky Snapper.

"I don't think anybody is going to come to this area and not want to stop here," Bos added.

Perched high atop the building is the "Landshark Lookout," which is complete with a bar and amazing views of Destin harbor and the Marler Bridge.

One of the unique features of the restaurant is the fact that the majority of it is accessible from the outside, whether it's a walkup bar or a boat stop where you can stop to pickup a margarita before heading to Crab Island.

"There is more outdoors than indoors," Bos said. "Our people are along the street, so we are going to have bars lining the streets; it's part of the open containers ordinance."

"We're trying to get this whole harbor moving; so this is going to help with that," he added.

The team at Legendary Inc. was expected to officially turn the project over to Margaritaville officials Tuesday. The restaurant is expected to open early this year.

For Bos, the opening of Margaritaville is a high point, as it fulfills an early passion for the longtime developer.

"This is my 29th restaurant," Bos said. "I wanted to be in the restaurant business originally."

So what’s next for Peter Bos? Plenty.

"Unfortunately I have more 'what's next projects' in my mind than I do years in my life," he said. "For the first time, I'm facing the reality that I won't be able to build everything I've designed."


Destin's Margaritaville will officially open its doors Feb. 17 with a "Margaritaville-styled" ribbon cutting ceremony. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and the restaurant will open afterwards.