It's been rough going for Paula Deen, whose public fall from grace transformed her from celebrity chef into tabloid fodder.
Yesterday brought in more bad news (and publicity) for the former Food Network star: Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, the restaurant Deen co-owned with her younger brother Bubba Heirs for over 10 years, has abruptly closed. So abruptly, in fact, that employees were not notified.
Many showed up to work, the reported, only to find kitchen appliances being removed from the restaurant; severance checks were collected in the parking lot.
While the restaurant failed to notify employees of the shuttering, it did take the time to post a terse announcement on its Facebook page which reportedly read, “Thank you for 10 great years. Uncle Bubba’s is now closed.”
Many angry commenters turned to said Facebook page, which has since been taken down, to vent: “I’ve been water works all a.m.,” wrote one poster, who said she’d been employed there for seven years. “I’ve worked there since I was 16. I woke up this a.m. to no job and no forewarning."
This isn't the first time Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House has been the site of anger and controversy. Last year, Deen was slapped with a racial discrimination law suit from a former employee of the restaurant. While the lawsuit was eventually dismissed, the deposition from the case revealed some highly unsavory details about Deen, who admitted that "of course" she'd used the N-word, and described her desire to throw a wedding reception staffed entirely by middle-aged black men in white jackets so it could be reminiscent of the time before, you know, slavery was outlawed.
Uncle Bubba's may be closed, but Deen's comeback kick continues. Back in February, Arizona-based private equity firm Najafi Companies invested between $75 million and $100 million into Deen’s holding company, Paula Deen Ventures, which announced that it would open its first restaurant, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Related: Paula Deen Is Cooking Up a Comeback