BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, today recognized outstanding Alabama retailers representing 12 retail businesses with operations in 72 Alabama cities and 31 states as Retailers of the Year. The 12 winning Retailers of the Year were chosen from almost 50 nominees. The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2013 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 14th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Lucy Buffett, president and owner of Lulu’s, a destination restaurant in Gulf Shores along with an a gift store and online merchandise store, earned the Gold Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category.
The Alabama Retailer of the Year judges lauded Lulu’s for the way the restaurant is marketed to attract people from all over the state and beyond. Lulu’s almost 400 employees serve more than 700,000 people annually in a restaurant in a town where only 10,000 people live. During its peak summer season, the restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores serves 4,000 people daily.
Lulu’s “embodies the concepts of Southern hospitality in a way that helps our community place its best foot forward to more than 5 million visitors per year,” the Retail and Business Service Committee of the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce stated in its nomination of Buffett and Lulu’s as a Retailer of the Year.
From an on-site ropes course to free live music daily, Lulu’s does more than serve good food. It serves a good time.
Fifteen years ago, Lucy Buffett moved from Los Angeles back to the real L.A., her Lower Alabama home, to take care of ailing parents and fulfill her dream of owning a restaurant where she could share her grandmother’s recipes. Her first restaurant, LuLu’s Sunset Grill, opened in 1998, on the edge of a nationally protected bird estuary on Week’s Bay. The bait shop/outdoor burger joint/bar sat on the same spot where her family had fished since she was a child.
Five years later, she loaded everything including the palm trees onto a barge, moved to the current Gulf Shores location and renamed her new, bigger venue, LuLu’s at Homeport Marina. This August, she opened a second restaurant, Lucy B Goode, next door to Lulu’s. The new restaurant offers a more upscale dining option for her customers, while still being beach casual. Buffett refers to the whole operation as “my little miracle.”
Buffett is the sister of singer Jimmy Buffett, who is associated with two restaurant chains of his own. But Lucy Buffett has an identity and a following all her own. She has her own food brand, Crazy Sista, and is the author of “Crazy Sista Cooking: Cuisine and Conversation with Lucy Anne Buffett.”
In addition to having business finesse, Rodriguez said Lucy Buffett “is an outstanding corporate citizen, tirelessly supporting not only the chamber of commerce, but the philanthropic initiatives of a wide variety of non-profit organizations dedicated to the greater good of our community and its citizens.” Buffett encourages the next generation of entrepreneurs though sponsorship of the One Love One Ocean scholarship at Faulkner State Community College and the Peets Scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Lucy Buffett is a retailer of the year EVERY year to her customers, her 395 employees and the Gulf Shores community.”
Media Contact: Patsy Jones, Lulu’s | 251.967.5858
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423