Paula Deen’s Empire Crumbles—Wal-Mart, Caesars, Smithfield Foods Sever Ties
The face of Southern comfort food had quite the business empire, which appears to be collapsing with the media firestorm after she admitted in a legal deposition to making racial slurs at work.
The Food Network recently announced it would not renew its contract with Paula Deen next month. And now Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it has cut ties with the celebrity chef. The massive retailer carries a variety of food, cookware and health and wellness products under her moniker at all of its 4,000 U.S. stores, reported the Huffington Post.
"We will not place new orders beyond those already committed," said Dave Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman. "We will work with suppliers to address existing inventories and agreements."
Caesars Entertainment is also ridding Paula Deen’s name from four buffet restaurants, including Paula Deen's Kitchen at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina. The other locations losing Deen's namesake restaurants are located in Joliet, Illinois; Tunica, Mississippi; and Elizabether, Indiana. The casino-based Paula Deen’s Kitchen eateries were decorated to emulate the feel of Deen’s kitchen in Savannah, Georgia, serving southern staples like country fried steak and barbecued brisket. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort plans to re-brand its 400-seat restaurant with “a coffee shop style of offerings,” Leeann Bridges, a Harrah’s Cherokee spokesperson, told the Huffington Post.
Smithfield Foods has also decided to drop Deen as a spokeswoman and discontinue selling Paula Deen-branded hams.
Still on the fence is Target Corp., which carries Paula Deen-branded products; the company said Wednesday that is was "evaluating the situation." QVC is also reportedly reviewing its deal with Deen.