The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette will update readers on some of the most memorable people we covered in 2016. Here is the second story in our “Where are they now?” series.
When Jim Lisenby, aka “Pool Bar Jim,” left the pool bar at Marriott’s Grande Ocean resort on Hilton Head Island at the peak of summer five months ago, locals and tourists seemed to take it personally.
Emails and phone calls poured in to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette from patrons wondering what had happened to the beloved bartender, and when he would return to the bar he had served at for more than 20 years.
Lisenby told the newspapers in October he wouldn’t be returning to the resort, though he declined then to get into specifics. But the good news for his loyal followers is that he hasn’t put his locally famous blender away just yet.
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He was interviewed in September when he was planning a charity event, initially scheduled for Oct. 9 at Captain Woody’s restaurant on the island, to benefit the K9s for Warriors organization. But Hurricane Matthew postponed his return to serving up frozen drinks for that event until Nov. 6. He said said he served somewhere between 400 to 500 drinks that day.
“I was especially happy with it because I got to bartend and have fun with all of those people that I hadn’t seen in awhile,” he said. “So it was great.”
Locals and some timeshare owners from Marriott’s Grande Ocean resort stopped by, according to Lisenby. He said there’s talk of making the event an annual shindig.
“I told some people if they needed help during some of these charitable events they’re doing or fundraisers — any kind of cause — and I’m available and free, I would be more than glad to help them,” he said. “Because you don’t get many opportunities to really give back to the community, and if you can, God bless anybody who does.”
He said during the hurricane, he left for Atlanta with his girlfriend at the last minute and ended up meeting with a few bartenders from Hilton Head Island in a Georgia bar one Sunday.
“There was a guy from the Tiki Hut; there was a guy from The Dunes House; (someone from) the Grande Ocean; and myself,” he said. “And it was just a fun time.”
Since the July 4th weekend, Lisenby said he’s also been taking some well-deserved time off.
“I decided that I was not going to work, no matter what people offered, no matter what anybody did, except for that charity event,” he said. “I just wanted to take off and enjoy a summer. Twenty-two years is a long time to not be able to ever take any time off during the summer.”
Lisenby said he spent time with his girlfriend; his son, who’s a high school counselor in Georgia; and other family members.
“We’ve all enjoyed it,” he said. “I mean, we really have. It’s just been fun. ... If we want to go somewhere or if we want to do something, we just take off and go. We don’t have to ask; we just go.”
When it comes to the future, Lisenby said he plans to open a bar of his own on Hilton Head Island — something he hopes to do right, he added, since it could be his last business venture.
But for now, he’s mum on details.
“I think when the opportunity comes for me to let everybody know where I’m at and what I’ll be doing, I’ll make a post about that on Facebook and on my website; and everybody will know at end of the day,” Lisenby said.
“You know how Hilton Head is,” he continued. “As soon as something happens, everybody knows. You don’t really have to talk to about five people, and next thing you know, 5,000 people know what’s going on.”
You might also be interested in this video
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
HOW WE KNOW THEM: Jim Lisenby, aka “Pool Bar Jim,” has been making you frozen drinks by the Marriott’s Grande Ocean resort pool for 20 years.
WHAT'S NEW: Lisenby has served you on your vacation. Now he's finally taking his.