About two weeks after raising between $75 million and $100 million for her new company Paula Deen Ventures, beleaguered ex-Food Network star Paula Deen has announced plans to open a new restaurant in Tennessee. According to the press release, Paula Deen's Family Kitchen will be located with the "family-friendly real estate project" The Island in Pigeon Forge in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, neighboring the Dollywood theme park. Regarding the restaurant's cuisine, Paula's son Jamie tweets: "Food influence from mom to Matthew and everyone in between." There will be a retail component as well.
The massive 20,000 square foot restaurant (with a "a projected design, construction and yearly operation budget of nearly $20 million") is expected to open later this Summer and is Paula Deen Ventures first, um, venture. The opening date comes just over a year after a deposition in a now-dismissed lawsuit was leaked in which Deen admitted to using racial slurs, causing a public relations nightmare and costing millions of dollars in lost in endorsement deals.
Deen's comeback has been long in the works. Deen has been dipping her toes in the water of public appearances for the past few months, greeting cheering crowds in Houston and Buffalo, plus appearing at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. She has even landed a cover interview in this week's issue of People magazine. Check out the press release below for more on Paula Deen's Family Kitchen:
Paula Deen Ventures Announces "Paula Deen's Family Kitchen" New Restaurant and Retail Operation Neighboring Famed Dollywood Theme Park
Expanding "The Island at Pigeon Forge" Tourist Destination
SAVANNAH, Ga.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Paula Deen Ventures (PDV) announced today its first new business "Paula Deen's Family Kitchen," a new restaurant and retail operation at "The Island in Pigeon Forge;" a family-friendly real estate project developed by Darby Campbell and Bob McManus, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Pigeon Forge is the gateway community for Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the location of the famed Dollywood theme park.
"This restaurant and retail expansion is a 'sweet spot' for Paula Deen Ventures"
With a projected design, construction and yearly operation budget of nearly $20 million, the 20,000 square foot Paula Deen's Family Kitchen, scheduled to open in late summer 2014, marks new expansion of the Deen family's renowned Savannah, Ga., restaurant and retail operation.
"The Island in Pigeon Forge," whose initial components opened in 2013, will add significant economic growth to the region, as hospitality, restaurants and lodging are the area's largest sources of revenue.
In this new venture, the Deen project will join other hospitality and retail leaders such as Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Hotel and Build-A-Bear, along with a range of retail and dining operations. Also at the development is the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, an observation wheel attraction reminiscent of the famed London Eye.
"We know that sharing Paula's love and hospitality with her beloved fans and friends will be a great addition to our new development in Pigeon Forge," said Campbell. "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," comments McManus.
Pigeon Forge has more than 10 million visitors a year, and more than 2.5 million people stay overnight in the city.
"This restaurant and retail expansion is a 'sweet spot' for Paula Deen Ventures," says Paula Deen Venture CEO Steven Nanula. "When we met the team at 'The Island in Pigeon Forge,' we found an entrepreneurial spirit that was very similar to the passion and drive that fueled the growth of Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady& Sons which celebrates the beginning of its business with this year's 25th anniversary," Nanula said.
Along with this project, Nanula and PDV are exploring additional expansion opportunities in a range of categories in the months to come.
· Paula Deen Ventures Announces "Paula Deen's Family Kitchen" New Restaurant and Retail Operation [BusinessWire]
· Paula Deen: 'I'm Fighting to Get My Name Back' [People]
· All Paula Deen Coverage on Eater [-E-]