Imagine a theme park with a Paula Deen-inspired ride. You're strapped in a seat and taken on a tour through a rebuilt version of the chef and TV personality's home kitchen, which is overwhelmed with colorful utensils, aprons, pots, pans and family photos. The words "Butter y'all!" echo in the distance.
That's what it feels like walking into Paula Deen's Family Kitchen, a new-ish restaurant and retail store in Fairview that's something of a cross between a celebrity souvenir shop and nightmarish fun house. All those things I mentioned are there: a recreation of the Deen's actual kitchen that hosts demonstrations and some tastings, and the innumerable branded items you can buy to fill your cabinets at home. Deen's face stares at customers from dozens of cookbooks, pictures and even a life-size cut-out that's camera-ready for selfies.
And the word "y'all" is everywhere, from dishes to decor. There's even a whole table dedicated to butter with mugs, ornaments, aprons, spatulas and more emblazoned with Deen's tagline "Butter y'all." It's a hokey yet charming shrine to one of the Southern cooking's leading ladies.
The shop is connected to a restaurant with room for 250 people that serves Deen's original recipes like fried chicken, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, family-style.
You could argue Deen is equally famous for what's she said as for what she cooks -- and we're not talking just about her colloquialisms. In 2013, a former general manager at one of her restaurant sued the star and her brother, Earl Hiers, for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. That led to Deen's notorious admission that she had used the "N word" and several companies, including her home station Food Network, cut ties.
When Paul Deen's Family Kitchen opened in April, the chef told Dallas Morning News reporter Karen Robinson-Jacobs the incident was behind her. The Fairview restaurant is one of five in the southern United States, and was the first in Texas.