Paula Deen closes restaurant at center of harassment lawsuit

ATLANTA Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:45pm EDT

Food Network personality Paula Deen laughs before throwing out the first pitch prior to the Washington Nationals versus New York Mets MLB baseball game in Washington, May 19, 2010. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Food Network personality Paula Deen laughs before throwing out the first pitch prior to the Washington Nationals versus New York Mets MLB baseball game in Washington, May 19, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen's popular Savannah, Georgia, restaurant, which was at the center of a racially charged lawsuit against her, abruptly closed on Thursday after a decade in business.

"Thank you for 10 great years," Uncle Bubba's Oyster House, owned by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, told customers on its website. "Uncle Bubba's is now closed."

A white employee of Uncle Bubba's sued Deen and her brother claiming she had been the victim of sexual harassment and that there was a pattern of racial discrimination against black employees at the restaurant.

Deen said in a deposition in the case that she had used a racial slur, which prompted Scripps Networks Interactive Inc to drop her cooking show from its cable television channel, the Food Network.

The controversy prompted companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp and Home Depot Inc to stop selling Deen products.

A federal judge last summer dismissed the lawsuit.

Hiers closed the restaurant "in order to explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located," Jaret Keller, spokesman for the Deen family, said in a written statement.

"At this point, no specific plans have been announced and a range of uses are under consideration in order to realize the highest and best use for the property."

Keller declined to comment on whether the restaurant's closure was related to the lawsuit.

Deen has lately been staging a comeback, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that a private equity firm agreed earlier this year to invest $75 to $100 million in the recently formed Paula Deen Ventures.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Richard Chang)

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Comments (1)
the01artist wrote:
People need to let Paula Dean alone. She said something that was bad a long time ago. Now you have someone that is trying to make money off of that. People just up and pulled the rug out from under her. Paula made you guys tons of money and when it didn’t suite you any more you just up and walked out on her. Shame Shame Shame. Because she said something a long time ago does that make her a bad person? If that is the case then we are all bad people.

Apr 03, 2014 11:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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