Paula Deen’s Latest Move: Closing One of Her Restaurants

04/03/2014 at 04:56 PM ET

Paula Deen Bubba's
Michael Roman/WireImage

Six weeks ago, Paula Deen admitted she was ready to fight to get her name back after scandal hit last summer. Now, the celebrity chef is ready to close the door on another chapter in her life.

Uncle Bubba’s Seafood & Oyster House, one of her family restaurants in her hometown of Savannah, Ga., has officially closed for business.

The Deen family’s new publicity team released a statement explaining “the restaurant’s owner and operator, Bubba Hiers, has made the decision to close the restaurant in order to explore development options for the waterfront property, on which the restaurant is located.”

The restaurant was also the venue that triggered the sexual and racial harassment suit by an employee against Deen, 67, and her brother, Hiers, 60. During a deposition for the lawsuit, Deen admitted to using a racial slur in the past and that revelation ultimately sent the Southern chef’s fortune spiraling out of control last June. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed but the damage had been done. Deen lost her job at the Food Network, a cookbook deal, as well as the majority of her endorsement deals.

The abrupt closing of Uncle Bubba’s, which opened in 2004, surprised some staff and fans. One employee told PEOPLE, “I was supposed to work tonight and got a text this morning saying the restaurant was closed.”

Paula Deen Bubba's
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“It’s crazy,” he added. “All the employees I’ve talked to are mad because everybody’s worked there so long. Why overnight? Seems like they could’ve said we’re closing in a week or something like that. I’m bummed because it was good money.”

According to reps, employees at the restaurant will receive severance based on their position and tenure. Additionally, “all effort will be made to find employees comparable employment with other Savannah restaurant organizations.”

No word yet on whether any of the staff will end up working at the Deen family’s other Savannah restaurant, Lady & Sons. But an employee from there stood outside Uncle Bubba’s this morning informed visitors the restaurant had closed and recommended heading to Lady & Sons instead.. There was also an off-duty police officer on hand hired by Paula Deen Enterprises for security purposes, according to Julian Miller, the Public Affairs Administrator for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan police department.

Sources close to the family deny the move had anything to do with last year’s drama. “They’re just moving forward and focusing on other things,” explained one source.

One new focus? Deen is slated to open a new restaurant and retail store in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. this summer.

—Liza Hamm and Polly Powers Stramm

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Showing 40 comments

Aud on

Boo-friggin-hoo

Marin on

I hope they didn’t go to Lady and Sons because it really isn’t that great. I ate there a couple months ago and it was nothing to write home about.

CarolS on

Lady and sons. . .best chicken pot pie EVER!!

fastestnascar on

What comes around goes around Mrs. Seen. Your lineup of household items are being scrapped in the bargain isle at all department stores nation wide. A simple person performing a simple Rask can @ always should stand up to bullying in the workplace or in any other public place. Just put this in your lessons learned file Mrs Seen. :-)

Say It Isn't So on

Why would they close the restaurant so abruptly and not have the courtesy of informing their employees first? Something doesn’t seem right about this – but it won’t be the first time. A mystery indeed…….

Debra on

Keep fighting this world is full of a lot people that have no right to judge. I know God is our judge.

Anonymous on

Paula Dean,can’t you just go away gracefully?I live in the heart of the south and I can tell you that you are as much of an embarrassment to southerners as Tammy Faye Baker was to the Christian community!(I am a proud member of both.)Be happy with your millions,your younger husband and your WAY MORE than 15 minutes of fame!You are an exaggerated cartoon character!Stop embarrassing us”ya’ll”and just go away!!!!

truth on

karma’s a paula deen

karmaupos on

I’m an African American that voted for Obama TWICE. I’ve forgiven Paula. I’m SURE she will bend over backward not to be racist anymore. But I’d like to see her add a substantial number of qualified African Americans to her front office also.

digit on

Buh bye, y’all!!

Max on

She is such a fake, just say goodbye ya’ll and go away already!

Lacey on

I have heard from several different people that have visited Lady and Sons that it wasn’t all that great, including my own mom who was so excited to go. Old Paula should have shut Bubba down way before his actions affected her life.

Lynnhal on

Listen if u dint like her turn channel, don’t eat at her restaurants, or click on stories. She has a right to work however she sees fit. The story said employees would get severance pay. Restaurants close all the time. Don’t blame him for wanting to sell waterfront property and move on. No real story here. I believe everyone deserves a second chance.

alexis on

I feel bad for her she was really good at cooking

Snigglefritz on

Waterfront property ? Seriously. I have a bridge for sale also.

Sandra on

I for one am scooping up all of the products I can that have been relocated to the discount aisle. That stupid scandal is allowing me to get really good products at dirt cheap prices.

Foxtrotter on

karmaupos, You’re an African American that voted for Obama twice. What does that have to do with you forgiving Paula Deen? Just curious.

Kami on

Such fuss over the “N” word. REALLY? Guess you’ve never heard a black person speak or rap?
I love Paula. Love her books, shows and products. Looking forward to the new opening in Dollywood. THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN.

Kami on

And I voted for Obama twice as well.

Anna M. on

Something isn’t right here to close it without notice. Could be a conflict with Bubba, an attempt to avoid media scrutiny if announced it is closing or just plain “coldness” on her part, which would not be a surprise given the many reports of her indifference toward others.
Although I do not watch Paula anymore since her early cooking days, I supported her through this whole legal mess because I felt it was a witch hunt. She did not deserve to lose her job or sponsors who assume guilty before innocent.
I think closing this restaurant is a smart business strategy but to be so uncaring about the long term employees would understandable anger many. I am surprised her new financial backers would allow her to make such an abrupt closing. After all, they are building new PR for her as a different person.

Kathryn on

It seems to me there is a double standard from the media and a select targeting of only a certain few that you decide who to crucify. I think the lawsuit was nothing more than someone who saw an opportunity to use a celebrity past to increase their present. Greed is a strong motivator. No one likes slang terms or names but at one time or another, it has been said. I find it offensive when in the past I’ve been called cracker or white bread but I don’t run to the media crying poor me. Deal ith it tell them its offensive and move on. When will YOU quit feeding this animal called hate!

SHT on

So, they close the restaurant before informing their employees?! Wow. I would be ticked if my boss did this. I guess it just shows what type of bosses these people really were.

slawson on

#karmaupos — Who cares who you voted for? What does that have to do with P.D.? Wow…Really, seriously? Also, it is P.D. business she can hire whomever she wants that she feels is qualified. This is coming from a black person who doesn’t even care for P.D. However, I don’t throw a lot of foolishness in when situations should be based on facts. I’m just saying!

fsing1976 on

I find that all of the criticizen here is really not necessary. These people were not let go without compensation, and they will have a job gotten by this organization. Since the case was dismissed by the Judge, there really is no reason to go further into it… Her new advisiors are doing their job and I believe that this place closed because off loss of business partly due to the suit and mostly do to the economy. I also feel that Bubba was not able to continue due to his health problems. All in all, this is probably the best for all around. Of course their will be people saying anything they want and hide be hide their keyboard;: but such is such.

Granny on

Smart and beautiful woman, incredible cook, wonderfully refreshing on her shows. Just found out she is diabetic. Hmmm! I can hardly wait until she comes out with diabetic safe versions of all that wonderful food. Let her get her legs back under her. The suddenness of her restaurant closure may have been an IRS seizure and beyond her control. You don’t stand under the doorway when the building is about to collapse. I want to know where that store is that is selling her merchandise so cheaply, I feel a shopping spree coming on. Paula – Let the malicious and fair weather friends sound off til they find another bird with a broken wing and peck that one to death too – we’ll be looking for you in the Dollywood neighborhood. Oh, I’m not whitey or white bread. Just another woman who has been dumped into a trash bin and tossed about with people leaving me behind to die. I healed and got up again. So will Paula. And I will be there to hold out a steady arm to help her. The rest of you all – are you with me?

Callie Reid on

I would have done the same thing ..none of my buiness why. You go Paula.

Barry Landis on

Miss Dean,
I think it is a shame that you had to pay the price for a comment that was made over 30 years ago.
My family and I including my 17 year old son,loved watching your shows. I am 67 years old and I use some of your recipets

janet english on

paula deen is a racist-i can only hope she loses everything. Hello Oprah!!!

mrbigjake on

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Guest on

Employees sue their employer and then whine when the employer closes the business without warning? Really? That seems pretty ballsy. Got no sympathy for them.

sarajand clark on

This writer must be on Paula’s pay role. People always is writing puff pieces about her and her family. Or, People magazine revels in stupidity and southern bigotry.

Lowdcountrylover on

Karmaupos. Of course, you voted for Obama twice. Paula hasn’t done anything that anyone else hasn’t done. Why is it ok to be an opposite ‘racist’…Lord knows if it was The Neely’s restaurant and a white worker, none of this would be happening.

paula wineriter on

I onced worked with uncle bubba in 20008. I did the red rice,gumbo and the crab stew.he told me every morrn when he’d bring his spoons back in the kitchen to taste everything be fore peing, u got it! h was kind to me I was born in savh ga. and at 39,my family moved to savh tn. i left wilminton islandworking for Lester Claxton at the Pig.Wig doing the hot bar in the deli,which is gone now but anyways,I have done nothingelse than cook sense…I hadll left tn. and movedback home while at uncle bubba several mths and moving one day,I slipped on a step and twisted my right ankle and on cructhes.i I could not work so I went back to tn…everyone calls me paula deen…i add n there minis her mony.lol . I so support U and family and know good will come from all of this. Paula,u may know my sister-n-law? Julie..she works at Publix on Wilmigton.in the meat dept.I hope you and or bubba get this,lol,I’d been one of those looking for work today if not for my mishap . that place was Snappers back n the day ANd Julie from publix,my sistern law,was waitress there.O. back n the bag lady days with medical arts,I lived on 64th.5 hundred block…I have much respect for you and yours.much luck on your new jounney….I i will continue watchingmy saved shows…..

wanda grubbs on

Be sure you get back up soon…your good and we all know it….you are loved…and your talent is wonderful,,,.who cares about some one”s loud mouth…they can pay their dues ….and they will. Forget it and come back full swing. We are waiting! …..Wanda

Nonna on

I see from the comments none of the authors actually knew this family. They are just as you see them and the employees I spoke with love Paula and her family. Too bad the press will cost a lot of hard working people their jobs. I bet they did not look at the race of their customers while working .
And by the way, Lady and Son food is like sitting at Grandmothers dining table – delicious.
Many of the negative comments are just ignorant and not true.

Keisha Odits on

Dear Ms.Dean I miss you so much I love your sweet charm to the kitchen but what I want to say to you is fight because black people call each other that all the time you should not be punished for what we say to each other all the time I wish there was a way I could help you love you and miss you

Carrie on

Mrs.Paula
always remeber these words when
One door closes another opens. and
people in this cruel world will always
be just that cruel .the past is just that .and thats why its called history.you are loved by many and respected .I
know myself you taught me how to fix taster and healther and fun meals
for my family .i even learned from
you nothing is impossiable.i miss your shows all was great but paulas party
was top
best wishes hopes and dreams
may all be true
to your family
from me
carrie. pss happy mothers day

Constance on

I don’t understand that a lot of white folks feel this way but smile in their faces of black folks. I am a black woman with biracial kids and a white husband. Trust me as long as black folks still seek the approval of white people nothing will change. Yet as soon as we get a margin in the white man world we endorse their products endorse their creations of luxury. We get upset over A WORD instead of using this passion in the educational system that glorifies a system that was set up for one race,one class structure. We are so quick to celebrate a little corner stone. We shall overcome what . Please tell me where is this promise land? Wake up black people

Constance on

Paula go open some In California call them Sambos and Crackers. Have the waiters dress up in Amos and Andy outfits and put a white jockey in the front……

Roxanne on

Closing Bubba’s – why if people did not like there boss there, what does it matter if the place closed.

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