Bubba Gump to close

  • Iconic items from the movie “Forrest Gump” sit at the “bus stop” in front of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on Alii Drive, which will be closing in December. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Iconic items from the movie “Forrest Gump” sit at the “bus stop” in front of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on Alii Drive, which will be closing in December. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on Alii Drive will cease operations in December “due to lease expiration,” company senior vice president and chief operating officer Jim Dufault said Wednesday.

Dufault did not go into detail about the circumstances surrounding the lease expiration and end of operations at the Kona location, but said the company is working to relocate its employees to other area locations.

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“We are grateful for the support of the community and look forward to continuing to serve our guests at our Honolulu and Maui locations,” Dufault said in a statement.

Restaurant staff on Wednesday referred questions to the company’s public relations office.

The property in which the restaurant is located, Waterfront Row, is owned by Watumull Properties Corp., which is headquartered in Honolulu.

Watumull Properties Corp. president J.D. Watumull said they are looking for a new tenant for the space. That building has an area of 5,523 square feet, according to the county’s Real Property Tax Office.

“And we’re disappointed they’re leaving,” Watumull said.

He estimated Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. has operated at that location for about 20 years.

Freeman Garnet and Andrea Graham, who came into Kona on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America, came by the restaurant Wednesday afternoon.

They don’t have Bubba Gump in St. Louis where they’re from, they said, so it’s a place they enjoy going when they’re out of town.

“And when we saw there was one here,” said Graham, “we said we were going.”

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The two pointed to the food and atmosphere of the restaurant as something they like about it and said it was unfortunate the local restaurant was closing.

“They’re going to miss them, I think,” said Garnet.

  1. KonaDude November 1, 2018 5:39 am Reply

    It’s going to make an awesome homeless hangout while it transitions to the next business.


    1. shirl November 1, 2018 6:54 am Reply

      Kona Dude, It will happen for sure. The bags are already packed so
      it will be an easy move in…Those in Charge have been warned…


  2. Michael November 1, 2018 6:42 am Reply

    poor service mediocre food .. good riddance


  3. shirl November 1, 2018 6:50 am Reply

    Parking is the problem for most of the business in the Village Area.
    I always pick the areas with lots of available parking. How about
    K Mart area…Bubba Gumps and a Movie. Put the thinking caps on


    1. blunt TrUth November 2, 2018 4:15 am Reply

      K-mart failed, even with all that parking.


      1. KonaDude November 2, 2018 8:06 am Reply

        As Raymond Babbitt would say, K Mart Sucks!!


      2. Bond November 2, 2018 6:04 pm Reply

        never could compete with walley world


  4. Billy Batts November 1, 2018 10:30 am Reply

    When they had breakfast it was a great place to watch a large Western swell with the boogie boarders.


  5. ypupule November 2, 2018 8:49 am Reply

    How’s about having a The Cheesecake Factory as a replacement there? Not based on personal preference — have only eaten there a couple times, and recall it being “not bad.” But the Waikiki TCF was the highest grossing location in the nation… so just $$-wise, I figure it might similarly do well in Kona if they’re looking for another national chain-type eatery.


    1. doncanard November 2, 2018 6:59 pm Reply

      please no, get in a local business rather than canned corporate stuff ? when everything is yupscale then the life will have been duly sucked out and we can all go “home”, value is not measured by how much money you’re able to spend.


      1. ypupule November 2, 2018 7:30 pm Reply

        Sure, I was actually gonna suggest a homegrown restaurant as a “feel good”, sorta “PC” replacement (and I’m not being sarcastic). If there’s one that can work out there, great! Guess I was speaking more from a “business” mindset… figuring Watamull might be looking for something similar to Bubba Gump in character, price, volume — yes, a “canned corporate” restaurant. Either way, though, I doubt any restaurant could survive there with a lower, “non-yupscale” menu price point — not in these times.

        But like many locals, I pretty much consider Kona town to be the “Waikiki” of the Big Island. It lost (most of) its soul a long time ago, and has become a place made for visitors/outsiders/transplants — what they envision “Hawaii” should be like. In that sense — Bubba Gump, Cheesecake Factory… , for me it doesn’t really matter, lol.


        1. doncanard November 3, 2018 6:20 am Reply

          fair enough. I’m not local, we’ve made 18 trips over the last 22 yrs so just a little kama’aina maybe ? I hear you about waikiki, and to some extent Kona, but I see a strong phenomenon everywhere, even waikiki, that the layer of mainland BS is pretty thin, and right underneath is the natural environment itself, to see and engage with if you just give it a couple seconds. Ocean, and everywhere the incredible power of the volcanos, whether active or past. What I’m missing the last few years (since about 2005) is the slightly corny, but well-formed and useful, “aloha breakfast” culture that was presented to tourists, where they were gently told that things aren’t the way they are on the mainland, and there are good reasons for that, so partake. That’s been unfortunately replaced by a disturbing amount of planet hollywood/loud rock’n’roll/faintly strained money-based party hard atmosphere (it’s like astroturfing, the people aren’t really looking like they’re having a great time naturally, but they’re spending enough so they feel like they ought to be – “aren’t we ?” – where if they tuned out from the expensive noise and tuned in to the environment around them they’d feel reborn…). I suspect that this correlates with the economic cycles I’ve heard pass thru the tourist industry in Hawai’i. Anyway, best to you, thanks for sharing, and we’re grateful to be able to partake of and add what we can to aloha.


          1. ypupule November 3, 2018 9:17 am

            Hey, appreciate both the tone and content of your posts. Pretty sure I get where you’re coming from, and I wouldn’t take issue with anything you’ve said. My original post was coming from one particular viewpoint — “business”/financial/economic… and perhaps colored by a somewhat cynical/jaded/pessimistic perspective. I’m open to and acknowledge the validity of other viewpoints as well. Definitely have no personal or other stake in specifically wanting TCF to be there, lol… it was just a thought.

            Regarding tourism/economic cycles — I believe we’re on the cusp of a very serious downturn here, due to the confluence of both ongoing and potential events — locally, nationally and even worldwide. If that turns out to be accurate, then who knows? Crisis brings opportunity — perhaps a chance to re-think and improve on our approaches to tourism, development, etc. here.


  6. Big Mac November 2, 2018 10:05 am Reply

    Not gonna miss it. I ate there twice in 18 years. Hopefully a proven chain moves in because I have yet to eat at a locally owned restaurant that had consistently good food. The only exceptions are Orchid Thai and Annies Burgers but Annies is slipping.


    1. doncanard November 2, 2018 7:02 pm Reply

      ate at Island Lava Java a couple weeks ago and it was awesome ! We should be so lucky to have as many good restaurants around home which has also outdoor rec attractions (Well, it’s not Hawaii, but a major climbing draw). Too much focus on money & “upscale”, which does -not- equate to quality. Aloha instead…


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