Food Network personalities Patrick and Gina Neely took to Facebook on Monday to announce their pair of Memphis restaurants will remain closed "indefinitely." Neely's Bar-B-Cue abruptly shut down the restaurants last fall, along with a third concession at the FedEx Forum, citing the need to renovate and regroup. "We're gone so much and involved in so many projects that it's been really difficult to concentrate on the restaurants here like we need to," Gina Neely told Commercial Appeal. In the meantime, Food Network Gossip notes that Gina Neely is the current spokesperson for George Foreman Grills and other branded merchandise sold on QVC, which raises the question: Is the Paula Deen scandal somehow part of the Neelys' restructuring?
It's unclear, though Deen (and her line of products) was dropped by the home shopping network last week. The Neelys and Paula Deen share a producer, and Deen herself was instrumental in bringing the married couple's show to television. After last's month's allegations of past racism became national headlines, the Neelys released a statement of mixed support for the embattled celebrity chef.
"We were shocked and saddened to learn of the comments from Paula Deen. Racism of any kind from anyone is simply unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," they told ET Online. "In our own relationship, Paula has shown us kindness and generosity. We trust that Paula's apologies are sincere and hope there is a positive lesson to be learned from this situation."
Perceiving a distancing effort, Paula Deen's fans had a volatile reaction to the statement once it was posted online.
Here is what the Neelys had to say about the closure and their future plans:
Gina and I want to thank you, our followers and fans for your continuous loyalty. We want to say from the bottom of our hearts how much we appreciate you. We want to share with you that we have closed the Neelys Bar B Que restaurants in Memphis Tennessee indefinitely. We want to invite you to continue to support our New York location. Again we want to thank you for your continuous support.
News of the couple's two-year-old Neely's Barbecue Parlor in New York staying open also prompted a mixed reaction online. "Well good luck I might have made it to Tennessee," wrote one user, "but I will never make it to New York."