Paula Deen restaurant closes down: Uncle Bubba's Oyster House at center of racist controversy shuts for good
Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House is no more. The beleaguered restaurant, which was owned by former Food Network star Paula Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Heirs, has closed down for good.
Deen's PR firm, Key Group Worldwide, released a statement confirming that the 10-year old restaurant has closed.
"Since its opening in 2004, Uncle Bubba's Oyster House has been a destination for residents and tourists in Savannah, offering the region's freshest seafood and oysters," the statement read. "However, the restaurant's owner and operator, Bubba Heirs, has made the decision to close the restaurant in order to explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located. At this point, no specific plans have been announced and a range of uses are under consideration in order realize the highest and best use for the property.
"The closing is effective today, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Employees will be provided with severance based on position and tenure with the restaurant. All effort will be made to find employees comparable employment with other Savannah restaurant organizations."
Employees of the restaurant were seemingly unaware of the restaurant closing. The Washington Times reports that Uncle Bubba employees showed up today to find the store's "Closed" sign down, and appliances being removed. Several employees also confirmed to Atlanta news station WSAV that they were not informed of the closing.
The restaurant and its namesake were at the center a racial firestorm last year, when former General Manager Lisa Jackson sued the celebrity chef, citing a hostile work environment and sexual harrassement. As Eater reported, Deen's admitted use of racial slurs crippled her Food Network empire, costing her millions of dollars in revenue from television hosting, recipe books, and endorsements.
As reported on USA Today, Jackson accused Bubba of distributing pornographic photos, making black employees use a separate bathroom, and even spitting in Jackson's face. Jackson's lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but the admissions Paula Deen made in her deposition were ruinous.