SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Employees of Uncle Bubba's Oyster House say they were blindsided by the restaurant's sudden closure Thursday.
"I worked like literally last night, so I closed the restaurant," server Brian Ginn said. "Nothing was out of the ordinary at all. It was, it was busy."
Thursday morning, a crane removed the road sign for Uncle Bubba's. Police and barricades blocked the entrance.
The restaurant was owned by Bubba Hiers, brother of celebrity cook Paula Deen, who lost several endorsements last year during a discrimination lawsuit against Uncle Bubba's. That lawsuit ultimately settled out of court.
Ginn only has worked at Uncle Bubba's for a week. He says he turned down another job to take a server spot at the oyster house.
"Why would you still be hiring if you were planning on closing the restaurant?" he wants to know.
Ginn says Uncle Bubba's was working on a new menu for the tourist season.
Thursday night, car after car turned around, hungry customers who hadn't heard the news.
"We come here to eat every time we come," Jamie Ray said before she and her daughters turned around their cars.
For many, the closure seemed surreal.
Charlton Riegner lives next to Uncle Bubba's.
"They film here quite a lot, so initially I thought the barricades were up for filming purposes."
Ginn thought he was working Thursday night. Then he saw Uncle Bubba's website.
"Thanks for 10 years," it read.
He thought he had the wrong website.
"I can only imagine how the people who's been there for eight and 10 years feel," Ginn said.
Bubba's released a statement Thursday saying employees will receive a severance based on how long they've worked at the oyster house.
No reason for the sudden closure has been given.