Paula Deen's popular restaurant which was a focus of her racial slur controversy has closed suddenly in Savannah, Ga., surprising and angering many of its employees.
The announcement was made on the restaurant's Facebook page.
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The restaurant, Uncle Bubba's Seafood & Oyster House, was at the center of a lawsuit last year in which the general manager sued Deen and her co-owner brother, Earl W. "Bubba" Hiers Jr., which led to the revelation that she had used a racial slur 30 years ago.
Deen subsequently lost her contract with the Food Network as well as millions of dollars' worth of endorsements from several major companies. The charges of the suit itself were eventually dismissed, but the damage to Deen's reputation was already done.
In a comment on the Facebook post announcing the closing, one woman who lists herself as a hostess at the restaurant seemed angry, suggesting that the employees were not informed ahead of time.
"Bubba [Deen's brother] pulled the plug because of 'real estate' options. he didn't have the audacity to let ANY of his employees know until today and we all found out on FACEBOOK . . . I worked there for 5 years. complete and total lack of respect, [sic]" she wrote.
TMZ reported that another employee wrote
, "My mother put in some hard work for years with you & she finds out when she shows up for work this morning to be escorted by a police officer to get her belongings."
In a written statement released later in the day on Thursday, Heirs released a statement through Key Worldwide Group — a New York-based public relations firm — giving some explanation for the closing and promising severance pay for the employees.
"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 . . . 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."
The waterfront property the restaurant sits on totals 2.7 acres, and was originally acquired by the brother and sister pair for $2 million.
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