The film "Forrest Gump," with six Academy Awards and Tom Hanks in the title role, had a significant impact on the shrimp-themed restaurant Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Most restaurants already exist if they make an appearance in a movie, or are simply made-up places. But in this case, the restaurant was inspired by the film. The success of the film "Forrest Gump" definitely reached many people´s hearts, or at the very least, they’ve heard the quotes and catchphrases such as "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you´re going to get." If you´re a fan of the movie, you may want to visit the restaurant just for all the film memorabilia adorning the walls.
In the case of the restaurant, Paramount Films and a restaurant company, Rusty Pelican Restaurants Inc. (via Los Angeles Times), decided to partner together to create a real-life version, an eating establishment where people could enjoy good conversation, photos, and mementos from the film, and have a plethora of options of all sorts of dishes, with shrimp as the main star. Although most people recognize the name from of the restaurant from the film "Forrest Gump," there are some surprising details about the business: having global locations, its volunteer organization where employees can donate their time, and even being taken to court by a former employee.
Restaurant inspired by a film
Restaurants that appear in films are often invented places that don’t exist in real life. Sometimes restaurants that appear on the big screen may be well-known establishments that get a few seconds on air, or perhaps an entire scene takes place there. The TV series "Cheers" was inspired by an actual bar in Boston, eventually with two locations, reports USA Today. But in the case of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. neither of these scenarios occurred. Instead, the restaurant idea came from the successful film "Forrest Gump." One dramatic thread of the film involves the title character opening a shrimp company in honor of his friend, Bubba, who was killed in Vietnam.
This shrimp-themed restaurant first opened in 1996, two years after the film debuted, and had incredible success. The idea behind this seafood chain is explained on the restaurant website: "a casual family restaurant with a theme based on Forrest Gump’s life, philosophy and love of shrimp."
Actor Chris Pratt: Bubba Gump waiter turned film star
It´s common for hopeful actors to work at a restaurant to make ends meet while pursuing their show business career. Actor Chris Pratt got his big break while working as a waiter at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. But instead of working in Southern California, he was based in Hawaii. He was living out of his van at 19 years old, according to an article at "Today."
And then one day, he got a lucky break when he waited on (and, fortunately, recognized) Rae Dawn Chong, director and actor known for the film "The Color Purple" (via Buzzfeed). He struck up a conversation, highlighting he recognized her. One thing led to another, and Chong, the daughter of Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong) offered to put him in a film. Although the horror film never debuted, it did encourage Pratt to move to Los Angeles and, eventually, more work as an actor than as a waiter, according to Buzzfeed.
You can eat stateside or abroad
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. has become a successful international seafood restaurant chain, both in the United States and internationally. The first restaurant debuted on Cannery Row in Monterey, California in 1996, according to their website. Within a couple years, they opened more restaurants in California before expanding to other states.
Today, you can find plenty of locations in 10 different states in the US, from California and Colorado to Maryland and Mississippi. If you´re traveling abroad to Asia, visiting the city of London, or enjoying the beautiful beaches in Mexico, and you start having cravings for all things shrimp (and perhaps all things Gump, too), you can satisfy your palette by enjoying a meal at this themed restaurant. According to the company’s website, there are locations in several different countries, including Bali, Canada, China, Japan, England, Mexico and Qatar. Their website mentions 23 restaurants in the United States (six each in California and Florida alone).
Employees challenged the company’s social media policy
As with nearly any large business enterprise, there have been legal issues along the way for Bubba Gump. Sophia Flores, a former employee, claimed the restaurant company had a social media policy that infringed on workers’ rights in regard to what they were allowed to post or not. Basically, Section 7 of the employee handbook forbade workers from discussing their job online. Frustrated by the company’s policies, the case was taken to court, claiming that this seafood chain was going overboard with their requirements. The case called Landry’s Inc. v. Flores (via The National Law Review).
One of the main clauses in question: "While your free time is generally not subject to any restriction by the Company, the Company urges all employees not to post information regarding the Company, their jobs, or other employees which could lead to morale issues in the workplace or detrimentally affect the Company’s business." According to the Administrative Law Judge, they said the language in question did not limit or prevent employees from talking about their job in a virtual space but instead asked employees not to "create moral problems," stated in The National Law Review in 2014.
Employees can volunteer through the grassroots organization
You may think this themed restaurant chain is all about shrimp, movie memorabilia and having a good time with friends over a fun meal. But you may be surprised to know they also have a volunteer organization called Shrimpossibles, through which employees can contribute to their community by volunteering in their spare time, according to an article in The Daily Meal.
Sounds like a good way to continue team building and getting to know your co-workers in your off time (that is, if you´re not tired of them after each shift). When they have a day off, they can hang out and work together to give back to the local community. Each location is affiliated with nearby non-profits or events that could benefit from people lending a hand, either through donating their time or fundraising.
"We strive to be good neighbors and make a positive impact on the world. We will provide a broad spectrum of opportunities for our staff to give of their time and talents to help those in need," states the Shrimpossibles mission statement. Some service projects have included donating time to food banks, improving literacy with activities with Read Across America, and even the Special Olympics, according to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. website.