Deen to kick off tour in Pigeon Forge

Apr. 29, 2014 @ 03:41 PM

Paula Deen is planning a 20-show live cooking tour to kick off in Pigeon Forge on June 21, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The announcement was made Monday by Paula Deen Ventures, saying that the 90-minute “Paula Deen Live!” shows will feature a mix of cooking demonstrations, games for audience members and personal stories.

Paula Deen’s Country Kitchen is set to open in Pigeon Forge sometime this summer, featuring 20,000 square feet of restaurant space with 3,000 square feet of retail space. The projected design, construction and yearly operation budget is almost $20 million.

Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear said he is excited about the announcements of Deen’s activity in Pigeon Forge, particularly because he believes it’s a good match for the city.

“I think it’s amazing,” he said. “She has a very strong brand, and she is connected with her fans. It’s going to bring a lot of people to our city, and the folks who visit here are going to love it.”

Local developers Darby Campbell and Bob McManus are partnering with Paula Deen Ventures. The developers’ The Island complex also is to feature Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Hotel and other dining and retail developments to be completed in the near future. Dick’s Last Resort restaurant opened earlier this month.

Last year a Paula Deen restaurant was closed in Cherokee, N.C., following controversy surrounding Deen’s acknowledging that she used a racial slur.

Only five cities have been announced for the tour so far, including Nashville, Atlanta, San Antonio and Deen’s native Savannah, Ga.

n jold@themountainpress.com