Ex­pe­ri­ence with WEM own­ers led to Bubba Gump deal: of­fi­cial

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - GOR­DON KENT gkent@post­media.com twit­ter.com/ GKen­tYEG

(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.

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