Former employees speak out after Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen closes for good

Paula Deen Family Kitchen Closing
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 9:44 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A staple in Southern cooking in Panama City Beach is a staple no more.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Pier Park shut its doors suddenly last week. The closure laid off around 30 employees.

“We came here and grew as a family and became friends,” Andrea O’Neal, a former employee, said. “We worked hard at this place, and we put our heart in this place.”

Many of them are now looking for a new job.

”Having to look for a job off-season is really hard here on the Beach,” Tammy Cordell, another former employee, said.

O’Neal said she needs two jobs to stay afloat in today’s economy.

“I had two jobs, and I needed this job,” she said. “I have a son I need to take care of and feed. I don’t get any kind of government assistance. Everything I make is from me working hard. It really hurts.”

However, this isn’t the first time Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen closed its doors in Pier Park. The country-style cooking spot closed back in 2019 under a different licensing partner.

When the place reopened two years later under someone else, former employees said they believed things would turn out differently.

“They promised this wouldn’t happen again and they did it with no remorse,” O’Neal said.

Former staff members said the restaurant closed a second time due to its inability to pay rent and its staff. NewsChannel 7 attempted to reach out multiple times to the Director of Marketing for Diverse Concepts - the parent company of the restaurant. We never heard back.

Many former employees also said the restaurant is closed for good.

A number of them are currently trying to find a new job with just $200 in severance pay.