Perhaps the most difficult part of preparing for Jimmy Buffett to visit your restaurant is keeping it under wraps.
For one thing, the singer’s recognizable seafoam green sportfishing boat, The Last Mango, preceded him on his visit to the Chesapeake Inn Restaurant and Marina in Cecil County, said Gianmarco Martuscelli, the restaurant’s owner.
Once the boat was spotted near Chesapeake City this weekend, rumors started to fly, and Martuscelli received plenty of text messages from curious friends. But his team had promised the “Margaritaville” singer secrecy, and they held their tongues.
“We played into it a little bit, like: ‘No, it must be a replica or something, because he’s not here,’” Martuscelli said. “So it was fun.”
Initially, Martuscelli even stayed tight-lipped around his staff, he said.
“It was funny to hear servers and bartenders say, ‘I think Jimmy Buffett’s here’ and we would be like, ‘Ah, no, no, I think you’re mistaken,’" Martuscelli said. “The buzz got around quickly, and we were just like: This is gonna snowball. But actually, it worked out.”
Buffett’s crew brought his boat in on Saturday night, Martuscelli said, and enjoyed sushi, crab bisque and brick oven pizzas. Once Buffett arrived on Sunday to go out on the water, the crew ordered crab claws, lobster salad, crab salad and more crab bisque. When the boat went out once again Monday, the crew took more crab bisque to go.
Buffett’s seal of approval could soon appear beside the bisque on the menu, Martuscelli joked.
Buffett, who is 73 years old, was “very cautious” with regard to COVID-19, Martuscelli said, and had the food brought to his boat. And although Buffett did not stop in to perform at the restaurant, there was plenty of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” to be heard at the marina this weekend.
“We were playing Jimmy Buffett on our Spotify in the restaurant outside, and it was funny because people thought he was actually playing at the restaurant this weekend,” said Martuscelli, whose family built the restaurant in the 1990s.
Buffett did accept souvenirs from the Chesapeake Inn gift shop and pose for photos at the marina, which the restaurant posted on social media once he’d departed. Their post has been shared more than 3,000 times.
“All the different guests commented that have been to the restaurant, and were so disappointed that they weren’t there yesterday because they come all summer,” Martuscelli said.
Buffet’s crew visited the restaurant several years ago, Martuscelli said, which might explain this weekend’s trip. The restaurant has attracted its fair share of celebrities, including Super Bowl-winning coach Dick Vermeil and World Series-winning manager Charlie Manuel, Martuscelli said, but “nothing like Jimmy Buffett.”