That didn't take long. The anchor restaurant space in Harborplace's Light Street Pavilion that for 31 years was home to Phillips has a new tenant. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., "the first restaurant group based on a motion picture," will occupy the space previously occupied by Phillips Seafood Restaurant and Phillips Express.
"We are delighted to bring this unique casual dining option to our city and expect our visitors to embrace this fun, casual seafood restaurant wholeheartedly," said Christopher Schardt, Harborplace's senior general manager.
Inspired by a popular 1994 Tom Hanks movie, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. features "down-home décor" in a fun Alabama atmosphere that includes a retail store selling clothing and souvenirs like boxes of chocolate and "RUN, Forrest, RUN" license plates. Bubba Gump is owned by the Houston-based Landry Restaurants, Inc., which last year added Oceanaire Seafood Room to a family of restaurants that also includes Rainforest Cafe and the Chart House.
Bubba Gump almost made it to the Inner Harbor before, in 1998, when it would have occupied a floating barge developed by the Cordish Cos., but the location and appearance of the barge became the subject of epic wrangling between the Cordish Cos. and the National Aquarium. The Bubba barge was ulimately abandoned, but Cordish developed other barges in front of the Power Plant, including one for the now departed ESPNZone, where, a city official close to ongoing negotiations said, Phillips may be making its next move.