The Washington Post

Paula Deen shutters Uncle Bubba’s — without bothering to tell her employees

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Paula Deen poses for a portrait in New York. Deen’s comeback trail is leading her to the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. The Savannah, Ga.-based celebrity cook announced Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, she’s opening a new restaurant, Paula Deen’s Kitchen, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File) Paula Deen and her brother, Bubb Hiers, shuttered their Savannah restaurant without giving notice to its employees Thursday. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File)

A racial discrimination lawsuit against Butter Queen Paula Deen was dismissed last year, but not before the ensuing publicity cost Deen lost her lucrative Food Network television shows and endorsement deals.

Now Deen’s lost something else: the restaurant she co-owned with her brother — Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House.

Deen faced scrutiny last year when a former employee of Uncle Bubba’s, Lisa Jackson, filed a lawsuit claiming she had experienced sexual harassment and racial discrimination. In a deposition for the case, Deen admitted that she’d used the N-word — “of course,” she said — and told questioners she’d admired a plantation-style wedding reception outfitted with middle-aged black men in dinner jackets because it was reminiscent of the antebellum period.

The judge in the case, William T. Moore, dismissed the racial discrimination claims because Jackson did not fall under the protected class of individuals who faced the alleged discrimination — Uncle Bubba’s black employees. Jackson is white.

Thursday, Deen suddenly closed the Savannah, Ga., restaurant, which she co-owned with her brother, Bubba Hiers.

What’s more, she didn’t tell her employees but let them show up to work, only to find kitchen appliances being removed from the restaurant. The Savannah Morning News reported that employees were collecting their severance checks in the parking lot.

The restaurant posted a short announcement on its Facebook page: “Thank you for 10 great years. Uncle Bubba’s is now closed.” Commenters blasted Deen for not informing restaurant workers before posting the news on social media.

Deen was the target of not one, but two of Twitter’s most clever attacks of gallows humor with #PaulasBestDishes and #PaulaDeenTVShows, after testimony from her deposition was released. Twitter was quick to note the news Thursday as well.

A look back:








Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on issues surrounding race, gender and sexuality.



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