The popular Mai Tai Bar at Ala Moana Center will close Feb. 23 along with Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. due to a lease rental dispute that has made way for Olive Garden.
Jim DuFault, chief operations officer for Bubba Gump, in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, said that “due to the landlord’s ridiculous demand substantially raising our rent, Mai Tai Bar and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. located in Ala Moana Center will cease operations February 23, 2020.”
The mall is owned and managed by Brookfield Properties, one of the nation’s largest retail real estate companies. Representatives for Ala Moana Center didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“We value our employees, their dedication to our company and are working to relocate them to our sister properties in Honolulu and Maui,” DuFault said. The Mai Tai Bar and Bubba Gump is owned by Landry’s, also the owner of Morton’s The Steakhouse. “Moreover, we are now cautioning both the landlord or any subsequent tenant that if they steal our Mai Tai intellectual property, they will both be met with a substantial lawsuit.”
Olive Garden plans to open its first Hawaii restaurant at the state’s largest mall after years of its TV commercials running in Hawaii. The Italian-American restaurant chain filed a $50,000 building permit for Suite 3247, which is currently occupied by the Mai Tai Bar.
Bubba Gump, which can seat more than 300 patrons, and the adjacent open-air lanai bar combined have about 220 employees, according to a manager.
Perry Fualaau, 38, and his wife, Ranell Asuega, were at the Mai Tai Bar today. They’ve been coming to the bar twice a week to watch football and listen to live music off and on since moving here from Seattle in 1999.
“It kind of sucks cause that’s part of a landmark. It’s been here ever since I moved to Hawaii. I had good times here man with my friends,” Fualaau said. “It’s usually the pre-fun spot before everybody goes to the club. The food’s always good over here. We have to look for a new pre-fun spot.”