FOLEY - After two years of waiting, Paula Deen’s Family Restaurant is now open for business in Downtown OWA, located next to the Legends in Concert theater. The restaurant alone boasts 8,000 square …
FOLEY - After two years of waiting, Paula Deen’s Family Restaurant is now open for business in Downtown OWA, located next to the Legends in Concert theater. The restaurant alone boasts 8,000 square feet and seating for up to 290 people. Add in a huge gift shop with photo opportunities and window seating overlooking the water, and you’re looking at an impressive display from the champion of homemade Southern cooking.
“Y’all, Alabama is a very Southern state, and our food is very Southern,” Deen said during an interview prior to the grand opening of the Foley location, held on Monday, Dec. 16. “Our food is going to be unique because it is so delicious. It’s cooked just the way it’s supposed to be cooked. We do big Southern cooking here.”
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen serves dishes family-style. Guests choose either The Albany, which is two main entrees plus four sides, or The Savannah, three main entrees plus four sides. The courses are brought to the table in separate dishes where guests can dish out as much as they like onto their plates, while enjoying unlimited refills of all their favorite dishes. Each meal ends with an individual dessert for everyone in the party. There are no take-out boxes other than for the desserts.
With a full menu, it’s difficult to choose what to try first, though Deen recommends the pork chops, which she states she has every time she visits one of her locations.
“I think everything on our menu is going to be embraced by the people in this area because it takes them back to their grandmother’s table and their mother’s table,” she said. “That’s my wish for everybody that comes in here; to be brought back wonderful memories of when their feet were under our grandmothers’ tables, because so many of our memories are centered around food and being in the kitchen.”
Deen states the good homecooked Southern meals and the staff make her locations special, as her “brand is all about Southern hospitality.” She recently made her first trip to Foley in November, when she visited OWA’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
“This area just took my breath away when I saw it because I was amazed that [OWA] was only two and a half years old,” she said. “That blew me away, because this is going to be an incredible source of entertainment for people all over the United States; this is going to be a smaller Disney World or Tennessee. It has so much potential, and I’m thrilled to be in on the ground floor.”
Prior to the official ribbon cutting, Deen handed out checks from The Bag Lady Foundation, her personal foundation, to local organizations Ecumenical Ministries and The Lighthouse. The Bag Lady was formed in 2012 and was named after Deen’s first business.
“My foundation means a lot to me,” Deen said. “It’s to help other women and their children if they have any, because I walked that road, honey, and I know how tough it can be, so hopefully this will come in handy and hopefully there will be more to come.”
Following the ribbon cutting Deen held a book signing for the first 250 guests who began arriving at the restaurant at 5 a.m. to receive their wristband and get in line to meet Paula herself. The restaurant officially opened for business at 11 a.m. that morning, welcoming the first guests to the location.
“I want to thank y’all so much for giving us such a warm welcome and for all the love you give us,” said Deen. “I was blown away when I was here to light the Christmas tree at the outpouring of love there, so today is another good sign that we’re going to be here for a long time because of y’all.”
The past year has been huge for OWA, with the opening of not only Paula Deen’s but also Legends in Concert, C’est Le Vin Wine Bar, Sushi Co., Sweet Tooth at OWA, the Park’s first dark ride Mystic Manor, and more. To learn everything there is at OWA check out their website at https://visitowa.com. For more info on Paula Deen’s Family Restaurant at OWA, check out https://pauladeensfamilykitchen.com.