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PAULA DEEN-BACKED BUBBA'S CLOSES

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Paula Deen and her younger brother, Bubba, have shut off the fish fryer and locked the doors at the Savannah seafood restaurant that served as the backdrop to a workplace discrimination lawsuit that stained the reputation of the celebrity cook.

Deen and Bubba Hiers owned Uncle Bubba's Seafood & Oyster House for a decade before the abrupt closure last week.

Deen's bustling flagship restaurant, the Lady & Sons, and the gift shop next door remain open.

A spokesman for the Deen family, Jaret Kellers, issued a statement saying Hiers closed the restaurant "to explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located."

The restaurant closed less than a year after Deen was stung by her admission in a deposition that she had used racial slurs in the past. She was questioned by attorneys for a former Uncle Bubba's manager who said she was subjected to racial slurs and sexual innuendo by Hiers. The suit was settled last August, but not before Deen lost her Food Network show and some lucrative endorsement deals.

Even before the lawsuit, Uncle Bubba's was on shaky financial footing.

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