“It’s a home run for Pigeon Forge,” Leon Downey, tourism director for the city of Pigeon Forge, said. It’s a $20 million restaurant that will accommodate 350 people plus a retail operation. I’m confident that our guests will be pleased to have this restaurant in our community,” he said.Many of Deen’s fans agree. Comments on the News Sentinel’s Facebook pages include “Welcome to Sevier County, Mrs. Deen! I wish you the best of luck!” to “Yaaaaay! Finally a Paula Deen restaurant close to us! Can’t wait! Whoo-hoo! Paula and Dolly will be “the diamonds” of Pigeon Forge.” On Twitter comments range from “Best thing I’ve heard all day,” “I gained 10 pounds just reading this,” to “Butter! Deep frying! Butter! Sugar! Butter!”
Other social media comments mention the racial quote controversy that caused Deen to lose many of her financial supporters, including “Just what we need. Another fat white racist in Pigeon Forge.”Roland Gilford, director of operations for Paula Deen Restaurants, said the Pigeon Forge restaurant will be similar to Deen’s “The Lady and Sons” establishment located in Savannah, Ga., including an a la carte menu and a buffet option. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served.
“Within the facility we will also have Paula’s Sweet Shop and Coffee and a signature retail store featuring 3,500 of Paula’s favorite retail items,” Gilford added.And for those watching their weight, Gilford said there will be healthy options, too.
“Bobby and Jamie (Deen) are getting in on the action and will be throwing some of their favorite recipes on the menu. As you know, Bobby enjoys low calorie options,” he said.The Savannah, Ga.-based celebrity cook announced Wednesday she's opening a new restaurant, Paula Deen's Kitchen, at "The Island" in Pigeon Forge this summer. A hub for tourists visiting the Dollywood theme park and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge draws about 10 million vacationers a year.
“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,” real estate developer Darby Campbell said in a press release.Paula Deen Ventures, a new company launched to manage Deen's comeback after she acknowledged past use of racial slurs in a lawsuit last year, said it's pouring $20 million into the 20,000-square-foot restaurant. Earlier this month, Deen's company announced it's getting at least $75 million from a private investment firm.