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Paula Deen to open $20M restaurant in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., as part of comeback strategy

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Paula Deen poses for a portrait in New York. Deen’s comeback trail is leading her to the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. The Savannah, Ga.-based celebrity cook announced Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, she’s opening a new restaurant, Paula Deen’s Kitchen, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File)

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FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Paula Deen poses for a portrait in New York. Deen’s comeback trail is leading her to the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. The Savannah, Ga.-based celebrity cook announced Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, she’s opening a new restaurant, Paula Deen’s Kitchen, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File)

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Paula Deen's comeback trail is leading her to the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee.

The Savannah, Ga.-based celebrity cook announced Wednesday she's opening a new restaurant, Paula Deen's Kitchen, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. A hub for tourists visiting the Dollywood theme park and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge draws about 10 million vacationers a year.

Paula Deen Ventures, a new company launched to manage Deen's comeback after she acknowledged past use of racial slurs in a lawsuit last year, said it's pouring $20 million into the 20,000-square-foot restaurant. Earlier this month, Deen's company announced it's getting at least $75 million from a private investment firm.

Deen lost four buffet restaurants in casinos operated by Caesars Entertainment last year during the fallout from the controversy.

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