Experience with WEM owners led to Bubba Gump deal: official
(The West Edmonton Mall is) a fantastic opportunity for the brand. There are so many things to see and do at the mall.
The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is opening its first Canadian restaurant at West Edmonton Mall partly because it has experience with the mall’s owners, a company official says.
The 43-outlet seafood chain will own rather than franchise the Edmonton outlet, now expected to start serving customers in late spring or early summer rather than March as originally hoped, chief operating officer Jim Dufault said.
“The biggest key for Edmonton was working with West Edmonton Mall and (owners) the Triple Five Group, who we have worked with at the Mall of America,” he said, referring to Triple Five’s Bloomington, Minn., retail and entertainment complex, which includes a Bubba Gump restaurant.
“The opportunity presented itself with the West Edmonton Mall. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the brand. There are so many things to do and see at the mall, and it attracts a diverse group of customers.”
Serious talks about opening the restaurant at the mall started eight or nine months ago, Dufault said. It will have about 200 seats and feature the decorations found at other outlets, such as the bench outside with a pair of giant running shoes often used in visitor photos.
The theme of the restaurant, which opened its first outlet in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1996, is based on the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, and takes its name from the company envisioned by Forrest’s shrimp-loving friend, Benjamin Buford (Bubba) Blue.
Although the film was released more than two decades ago, Dufault says the concept hasn’t run its course.
“It’s an engaging environment … I don’t see an end to it at all. We continue to grow the brand, we continue to improve sales.”
The original Bubba Gump restaurant opened in Santa Monica, Calif.