Saturday, April 5, 2014

More classy behavior from Paula

I didn't think I'd be mentioning the self-absorbed food celebrity Paula Deen again after I said "good riddance" to her and accused her of lacking a conscience last year. Wouldn't you know, though, she finds herself in comment-worthy hot water again: her brother closed his restaurant, Uncle Bubba's, without warning. Employees were given two weeks' severance and vacation pay, and were referred to other area restaurants that might be hiring.

Deen's company, Paula Deen Enterprises, reportedly gave the restaurant significant financial backing, so she had to have been involved in the decision to close. Thus once again we're left to ask, what does this say about Deen herself?

The official excuse given for the closing was that Deen's brother, Bubba Hiers, wanted to "explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located", according to the HuffPo piece. That's not an unforeseeable accident for which an owner can be excused for not giving employees a heads-up.

Business owners screw employees over all the time, but Deen's personal brand is built around her kindly, folksy persona. That persona doesn't jibe with what her brother did to his employees. If you cared about the folks working for you, you'd tell them in advance that you were planning to close your doors.

Deen's not her brother's keeper, of course, but she did set him up in the business, so her brand is implicated. Her reputation will suffer yet again. I think it's altogether right that she should take more PR lumps: the unexpected closing, apparently in order to make more profitable use of the land, is in keeping with her propensity for profiteering. She has earned these wallops to her reputation many times over.

Anyway, it's not like this episode will have lasting repercussions. The world was already divided into "her fans" and "the rest of us". The rest of us washed our hands of her last year (or earlier), while her fans continue to be blind to her unsavory opportunism. She would have to be proved guilty of child abuse to be in any danger of losing her base.

So no worries, Paula. Stay the classy lady you've shown yourself to be.

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