Customers shocked after Uncle Bubba's closes its doors - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Customers shocked after Uncle Bubba's closes its doors

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Customers were shocked to find out after nearly ten years of business, Uncle Bubba's Restaurant is shutting its doors.

The popular seafood restaurant is run by famous chef Paula Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers.

Barricades have been up all day, and now that it's closer to dinner time, customers are showing up and getting turned away.

Even off-duty police officers hired by Paula Deen enterprises helped block the entrance of the well known seafood restaurant, which officially closed Thursday.

According to a statement from Deen family reps, the owner, Bubba Heirs, decided to close the restaurant "in order to explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located."

The closure comes as a shock to locals and tourists.

"Yeah, I didn't expect it to be shutting down, especially right before summer, with all the tourists coming out," said Chatham County resident Mark Austin. "But I guess it's happening."

"No, we didn't hear the news," said Kathy Wiley. "We're traveling and we found it on Yelp, and we're very disappointed."

While customers were shocked, employees are speaking out about losing their jobs with the sudden closure of the restaurant.

Most said they were not given any warning, and one server said he found out about the closure by watching WTOC.

"I just worry how are they going to make it through," said former server John Novesta, Jr, talking about his co-workers.

Novesta found out Thursday that he was out of the one job he loved so much, working as a server at Uncle Bubba's Oyster House.

He's not worried about himself, just the other employees now scrambling for work.

"Are they going to be able to take care of their bills this month, and that concerns me," he said.

Novesta, like all the other employees, said they were never informed of the closure.

Many employees said off camera they found out on social media.

Others, like Novesta, said they learned the news through WTOC.

"My partner called me this afternoon and sat me down and said it was on the news and so I drove over there," he said.

Even through such a tough time, he is standing by the owner and the man who hired him, Bubba Heirs.

"I think this has probably hurt him more than it hurt a lot of servers and the staff," said Novesta.

According to a statement from the family, the employees will receive a severance package based on their position and how long they've been with the company.

The restaurant said it also plans to help the employees find other work in the Savannah restaurant community.

There are no specific plans yet for this property. The owners are exploring a variety of options.

The Chatham County Assessors said the property is worth more than $1.5 million.   

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