It hasn’t been a secret, exactly, if you looked around gaming and/or hospitality employment sites, but the news machine is apparently getting cranked up for it all the same with a kickoff event on Thursday. The first Paula Deen-branded restaurant and shop outside the South will be opening in the Harrah’s Joliet casino in Spring 2012. Deen herself will be making an appearance at the event only by Skype (yes, it really said that), which perhaps gives some insight into how closely involved she’ll be, but in attendance will be Peter Jeschke, executive chef of the Paula Deen’s Kitchen chain (which so far as we can determine, exists otherwise only in a Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee, North Carolina; another, slightly different Deen-branded buffet chain seems to exist in the Harrah’s in Tunica, MS and a Horseshoe Casino near Louisville).
This restaurant will also be a buffet— of course it will— but for that sort of thing, judging by the Cherokee location’s menu, it looks fairly interesting. At least it’s a step up from the usual glorified cafeteria fare to be able to get an Oyster Po Boy (absurdly renamed “Po Bubba”) and a side of stewed okra… along with the expected Angus Burger, chicken Caesar salad and Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, without which any day gambling, hell, any day as an American wouldn’t be complete.