Paula Deen turned up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Friday to celebrate the opening of her new store, and she was greeted by a surprise that had her conjuring up memories of long ago.
Paula Deen’s latest retail store is officially open for business. Making an appearance Friday at the new Gatlinburg location, the controversial butter-lover spoke to fans and reporters alike about being a gracious host and shared memories from years past.
“You want to give people a wonderful experience through the eating. This was just a natural place to come. It’s my people,” Deen is quoted as saying about opening the Smoky Mountains location.
Little did she realize the staff at this particular store had a surprise for her. Anticipating Deen’s arrival, the staff had set up the original stove she’d cooked on during the filming of her first TV show. Upon setting eyes on the stove, the much-discussed star gushed, “Oh my gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve seen it.”
Deen said, “Nobody could see it, but I had two little boys playing at my feet as I stood up at this stove and cooked. I had two little boys playing with their cars and their soldiers playing at my feet.”
One fan in attendance praised Deen, sharing, “She’s been a true inspiration to me for so long. I’ve been collecting all her cookware stuff for about five years now.”
Deen, who has been accused of being racist, seems to have been on a do-gooding mission during her visit. Local 8 Now reports that she arrived in Gatlinburg with a $10,000 check made out to the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, a follow-through on her promise to give back to the communities where she does business.