Paula Deen to Open First Post-Scandal Restaurant in Tennessee

Feb 27, 2014 09:42 AM EST | By Dina Exil

About two weeks after raising money for her new company, Paula Deen Ventures, former Food Network star Paula Deen announced plans to open a new restaurant in Tennessee.

A press release reported that the celebrity chef is pouring $20 million into her new restaurant and retail store called "Paula Deen's Family Kitchen," which will be located near Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The area gathers about 10 million tourists a year, who are drawn in by the theme park, a Ferris wheel, various chain restaurants and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Deen's restaurant will be next to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Hotel.

The 20,000-square-foot eatery is scheduled to open in late summer 2014 and marks Deen's first move back into business after a racial slur scandal derailed her many enterprises, and caused her business empire to crumble. During the scandal, Deen lost four buffet restaurants in casinos operated by Caesars Entertainment, the Associated Press reported.

"Together, we can develop Paula Deen retail and restaurants that capture the imagination of Paula's massive fan base and Pigeon Forge's huge tourist community," Bob McManus, one of the project's developers, said in a statement.

Paula Deen's Family Kitchen will aim to capture the spirit of restaurant, Lady & Sons, the chef's eatery in Savannah, Georgia, according to Paula Deen Venture Chief Executive Officer Steven Nanula.

Earlier this month, Deen's company announced it would be getting $75 million-$100 million from private investment firm, Najafi Companies. She reportedly plans to use the money to form new deals and move away from a "pure licensing model, in which she sells her likeness and expertise to others."

Deen has made her fortune with business ventures that include restaurants, cruises, cookbooks, cookware and other products that focus on her touting of traditional Southern cuisine.

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