Paula Deen opening restaurant at Horseshoe - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Paula Deen opening restaurant at Horseshoe

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Louisville, KY (WDRB TV Fox 41 News) -- She has rock star status. That is why the Horseshoe Casino in Southern Indiana is betting that celebrity chef Paula Deen will prove to be a big hit.

On Thursday the queen of southern cuisine was checking out the gift shop that bears her name at the giant casino complex. It's right next to her new buffet restaurant that opens to the public on Friday.

The Emmy award winning TV cook is a mainstay on cable's Food Network. "I know folks from Indiana and Kentucky love that deep south southern cooking," she says with a strong southern accent.

So she has brought to this region the successful buffet style restaurant that made her famous in Savannah, Georgia. She says, "It features everything we are known for, our fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and our collard greens."

Horseshoe's owner, Harrah Entertainment, spent more than $3 million renovating the restaurant to look like the one in Savannah.

"Paula really highlights our food and beverage operation to be a world class experience," says Horseshoe General Manager Eileen Moore, "rewarding both our local guests and also creating a regional destination for new tourists to the region."

Deen says several years ago she considered opening more restaurants on her own but decided against it. Shortly afterwards Harrah's approached her about a partnership and so far it's been successful. "I knew that Harrah's had the knowledge and the manpower and they could pull it off where I could not alone," Deen says.

Deen is hands-on. On Thursday she and others taped a commercial for her new restaurant on location.  She says she'll keep a close eye on the operation in southern Indiana. "I'll be working with the chefs here to keep it as authentic to the mother ship as I can."

Deen has already opened a buffet at a Harrah's casino in Mississippi and plans to open a third location in North Carolina in November.

If they go well, there could be more. "I believe in letting people speak, let them ask for what they want, so hopefully there will be more," she says.

You can learn more about Paula Deen and her TV shows by going to http://www.pauladeen.com or http://www.foodnetwork.com.

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