Paula deen and sons

Paula Deen’s Sons Speak Up, But Her Empire Further Crumbles

Carlo Allegri/AP Carlo Allegri/AP

It’s been a downward spiral for Paula Deen since news of her deposition testimony as part of a racial discrimination suit went public last week.

On Tuesday, a few days following her video apology, her two sons, Jamie and Bobby, appeared on CNN to defend their mom amid the racial controversy, saying that they’ve never heard her talk the way she did in the deposition.

The brothers made the case that their mother is not a racist and that the N-word is not in their vocabulary. “We were not raised in a home where that word was used,” Bobby said. He says this is a case of extortion and character assassination.

As part of the fallout, Food Network was quick to announce it was ending Deen’s contract. And she has also lost a lucrative gig endorsing pork for Smithfield Foods.

But her food empire, estimated to be worth $6.5 million a year, hasn’t fully crumbled.

Though some retailers may be feeling the pressure to end their relationships, for now, Paula Deen Cookware is still on sale at Target and other retail stores.

In an email to us, a spokesperson for the popular retailer said, “Target is evaluating the situation.”

And Deen continues on as a spokesperson for the diabetes drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

In an email, a spokesman for the Victoza brand wrote: “We recognize the seriousness of these allegations and will follow the legal proceedings closely, staying in contact with .”

Meanwhile, a hostess at the Lady and Sons restaurant, which Deen operates with her sons in Savannah, Ga., said it’s business-as-usual this week.

“We’re booked up till 3 today,” the hostess said of the lunch crowd when I called early this afternoon. That jibes with what The New York Times reported over the weekend, and with the deep connection that fans have told me they feel toward Deen.

Also on for Deen are appearances at the Metro Cooking Show in Washington, D.C., Houston and Dallas this fall.

A statement posted on the event website goes a long way to stand behind the queen of Southern cooking. It reads: “She has apologized, and we are taking her apology at her word.”

In stating that Deen will stay on as a presenter at the show this year, the statement concludes, “This is a nation of forgiveness and second chances.”

Paula Deen, family plan new restaurant

Get your forks ready, y’all. There’s a new Paula Deen restaurant coming to Whitemarsh Island.

Paula Deen’s Creek House is set to open in June at 104 Bryan Woods Road, the former location of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, which Paula Deen co-owned with her brother, Earl W. “Bubba” Hiers Jr.

The restaurant will offer wide variety of dishes, including classic fried fish dishes, grilled seafood and Southern favorites such as Jambalaya and shrimp and grits. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

“We’ve been so blessed to cook up delicious Southern food for almost 30 years now in own backyard of Georgia,” said Paula Deen, said in a press release on Monday.

“I can’t wait to serve up more dishes – but with that coastal, Savannah flair that everyone loves!”

According to the release, Paula Deen’s sons, Jamie and Bobby, will be involved at the new Savannah location. Jamie Deen took to Twitter on Monday to show his excitement for the new location posting a photo of the restaurant’s “coming soon” sign to his account.

“We’ll save y’all a seat! Coming this summer. #Goodfood,” the Tweet read.

The property has been vacant since Uncle Bubba’s closed abruptly in April 2014. At the time Hiers stated he decided to close the restaurant to explore development options for the waterfront property. The 10,000-square-foot restaurant and the 3-acre lot were listed for sale a couple of months later for just under $4 million.

Paula Deen’s Creek House is the fifth establishment in the restaurant group to open, joining the flagship The Lady and Sons in downtown Savannah; Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and The Bag Lady in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.; and the soon-to-open Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Matthew Raiford, 45, a sixth-generation farmer in coastal Georgia who has been a chef for 20 years, said his father, a baker, had tried to dissuade him from going into the restaurant business because of the open racism in Southern kitchens. “He didn’t see a future for me in this field,” Mr. Raiford said. Like many other African-American chefs, Mr. Raiford found his way to running his own kitchen by taking corporate and hotel jobs, where diversity is encouraged and human-resources departments are careful.

But even where there is no overt sign of racism, African-American cooks often feel they are being held back. “There is a glass ceiling for black chefs, an assumption that you will not get to own your own restaurant,” Ms. Nelson said. “As a black woman, and a pastry chef, it’s clear to everyone I’m not threatening and also that I’m never going to be the executive chef.”

Still, some black chefs see Ms. Deen’s success as an inspiration.

“My heart goes out to her,” said Charlotte Jenkins, 70, a chef in Mount Pleasant, S.C., who said Ms. Deen’s accomplishment in building a business from scratch was something all Southern women could respect. “Even though her take on Southern cooking is different from mine.” Ms. Jenkins’s restaurant, Gullah Cuisine, emphasizes the coastal cooking of the Carolina Lowcountry. (The area embraced by the term “Southern cooking” is as large as France and Italy combined.)

Others gave Ms. Deen credit for showing some of the diversity and deliciousness of Southern food to Americans outside the region, where clichés of collard greens and fried chicken were often believed to make up an entire cuisine.

Still others said the rowdy, raunchy work environment described in the lawsuit against Ms. Deen and her brother by a former employee of their Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House in Savannah, Ga., was endemic in restaurant kitchens.

“I’ve seen porn and racist jokes, foul language — it’s pretty extreme and it happens more than most people know,” Kevin Sbraga, 34, an African-American chef in Philadelphia, said of the many restaurant kitchens he has worked in, in the North and in the South. He said that when he worked in the South a decade ago, the line cooks he worked with respected Ms. Deen. “Everyone, white and black, was proud at that time of how she was representing for the South. I guess some people overstay their welcome.”