The newest Margaritaville restaurant reflects area history along with a beach vibe.
To take a casual brand beloved for its laid-back, island-inspired atmosphere and reinterpret it as a sophisticated, upscale steakhouse is no easy feat. Yet that was the challenge Margaritaville Holdings, Orlando, FL, presented to The McBride Co., a hospitality design-and-concept firm based in Manchester Center, VT. What’s more, this restaurant concept would need to thrive as part of the brand’s new resort located in Hollywood Beach, FL. Having also led the overall design of the resort, the McBride team responded to the challenge by creating a refined dining experience that blends seamlessly with the beachy Margaritaville brand that guests around the world have come to love. As the first-ever translation of Margaritaville’s carefree ethos into a sophisticated dining space, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood was designed to give customers a new lens through which to view the brand.
As Margaritaville’s first venture into the upscale dining segment, JWB offers a level of service and ambiance that stand out from the company’s other restaurants. It was important that this new concept–albeit upscale–did not lack the vibrancy and fun-loving nature that define Margaritaville and help make it a success. The McBride Co. team embraced the challenge to explore the various elements of the Margaritaville brand in a new light, and prove that it can demonstrate a level of chic without losing its essence.
The company’s inspiration came from the seafood canneries that were once numerous along the Florida coast. The design team envisioned JWB as one of the local cafés that coexisted alongside the canneries, serving fresh, exquisite seafood dishes. This storyline provided a thematic framework around which the designers could build an authentic look and feel, plus, it referenced the restaurant’s location and aligned with the nautical themes so closely entwined with Margaritaville.
Carefully selected colors and materials to reflect the concept’s inspirational storyline included feature walls in handpicked reclaimed brick, with special attention given to the thickness and consistency of the mortar joints to convey old-world craftsmanship; aged hardwood floors; and elegant deep-ocean-blue fabric drapes to soften the space. The restaurant’s deep-ocean-blue signature color is reinforced elsewhere with blue Venetian-plaster walls and European glass mosaic.
The restaurant’s lobby bar offers craft cocktails in a space where every design detail exudes casual sophistication. With the bygone coastal canneries as the conceptual foundation, The McBride Co. began to weave in splashes of inspiration rooted in the Margaritaville brand. “JWB,” after all, is Jimmy Buffett’s initials. The interior designers sourced antique parrot cages to display spirits behind the bar, and the custom barstools feature rum labels from shuttered distilleries in the Caribbean.
The entrance to JWB is directly off the Hollywood Beach Resort lobby. Because the restaurant and bar operate on a late-afternoon and evening schedule, the designers gave careful consideration to how the entrance is viewed from the resort lobby during the hours when JWB is closed. A white-shuttered wall divides the bar from the hotel lobby seating area. In addition to alleviating the darkened appearance of a closed facility, the shutter detail creates a little excitement: prior to opening, the shutters are tilted open, so guests begin to get a peek of the restaurant coming to life.
JWB is designed to transition from one type of space to the next–from the bar to the main dining room to a more private dining room for special groups, events, or meetings. Because JWB changes as one navigates through the space, it provides diners with more than one impression and creates a more dynamic experience. From the bar, guests enter the main dining room, where the focal point is a 30-ft.-wide, colorful original mural inspired by the lore of the local spear fishermen (the supposed purveyors of the restaurant’s “catch of the day”). Hanging above the restaurant’s open kitchen, the mural is part of a custom art program coordinated by the designers exclusively for JWB. Throughout the restaurant, and the entire resort, original artwork and commissioned pieces lend the venue a special cultural sophistication.
The entry to the private dining room is just off the main room, through a sliding barn door. A large, weatherworn image of a parrot looms large over the entry, serving as a subtle splash of graffiti art on the heavy, masonry walls. Once inside this smaller private dining room, the high ceilings are replaced with a more personal space, accented with wood walls and atmospheric string lights.
Since its opening, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort has earned its position among the brand’s collection of successful restaurant concepts, holding its own alongside the likes of 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill and LandShark Bar & Grill, both also designed by The McBride Co. The Hollywood Beach Resort delivers on its promise of a laid-back, carefree atmosphere, yet with the addition of JWB, provides a refined dining option unlike anything else in the Margaritaville portfolio. CA