published Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Paula Deen to open restaurant in Pigeon Forge

Paula Deen's comeback trail is leading her to the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee.

The Savannah, Ga.-based celebrity cook announced Wednesday she's opening a new restaurant, Paula Deen's Kitchen, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 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.

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.

Deen lost four buffet restaurants in casinos operated by Caesars Entertainment last year during the fallout from the controversy.

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