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.