At the active-living community for Jimmy Buffett enthusiasts, it’s five o’clock everywhere. Letter from Daytona Beach…
By Nick Paumgarten, March 21, 2022
The first person I met at the Bar & Chill was a bald guy in a black T-shirt, black drawstring shorts, and flip-flops, with a Harley-Davidson tattoo on his right arm and a claddagh ring on his left hand. He was drinking and laughing with a few friends. He gestured to the empty stool next to him and said, “We don’t bite.”
I offered an expression of if-you-insist, and he said, “Bring it.” His tone was cheerful, as you might expect at the Bar & Chill, the principal drinking-and-dining establishment that looks out on the town center of Latitude Margaritaville, an active-living community for Jimmy Buffett enthusiasts, aged “55 and better,” in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Bar & Chill was open to the evening. A gentle breeze fanned the lanai. On a flat-screen, the Providence Friars led the Vermont Catamounts by a few buckets. A bartender brought a Perfect Margarita in a plastic cup.
The bald man, drinking a vodka soda, said his name was Phil. Phil Murphy, from Arlington, Massachusetts, aged sixty-four. Formerly a research director at Forrester, retired since 2015. “I was in the air for twenty years,” he said. He looked and sounded less like my idea of a Parrothead, as Jimmy Buffett’s diehard fans are called, than like Mike Ehrmantraut, the melancholic fixer in “Breaking Bad.”
Standing off his left shoulder, his wife, Betty, red hair cut short, added a dash of urbanity, a spritz of Allison Janney. Phil and Betty had organized an emergency fund for the restaurant’s staff during its Covid shutdown. One of their friends declared them “the king and queen of the Bar & Chill.”