Weekly Feature

2014-01-09 / Lifestyles

Paula Deen -- here

...cooking up southern hospitality

Paula Deen’s kitchen in Savannah, Ga., boasts an air of warmth and welcoming, which has been cheerfully recreated in the new Paula Deen Foods retail showroom, located at 10225 Main St. in Clarence. Paula Deen’s kitchen in Savannah, Ga., boasts an air of warmth and welcoming, which has been cheerfully recreated in the new Paula Deen Foods retail showroom, located at 10225 Main St. in Clarence. Putting recent setbacks behind her, Paula Deen is moving forward with her big smile and warm “Hey y’all” and heading to Clarence.

On Feb. 8, Deen will appear for a live cooking show at Samuel’s Grande Manor, 8750 Main St. in Williamsville. The event is part of a full-day grand opening of her retail showroom, located at 10225 Main St., Clarence.

Wanting to keep everything as local as possible and with only four people currently working in the showroom, other area businesses have jumped at the opportunity to take part in bringing Deen to Clarence.

Nick Gallegos, director of the Bag Lady Foundation, is one of the four people running Paula Deen Foods in Clarence, along with Anthony Nanula.

Nanula said the location will help the line excel since it fits with the retail culture of Clarence and aims to keep everything local.

“We opened the store in this location because we had space free, and it worked well with the look they were going for. The whole store is based off furniture she has in her store in Savannah, and we brought in a local guy to replicate the shelving in her store there,” he said.

The show will also benefit two local charities: Meals On Wheels for Western New York and The Food Bank of Western New York. This charitable spirit comes from the same place that led Deen to create The Bag Lady Foundation in 2012, supporting issues of hunger that affect women and families across the country.

“It’s really exciting that she’s getting involved with local charities,” Gallegos said.

Tickets for the day of events are selling fast, with less than 20 percent still available. The event is open to the general public, and general admission tickets are available for $60 from www.PaulaDeenLive.brownpapertickets.com. Additionally, there will be a VIP luncheon of Paula Deen recipes, an opportunity to have a personalized photo with Deen, a gift bag with Deen’s favorite products and a signed copy of “Southern Cooking Bible.” VIP tickets are $250.

Before the luncheon and show at Samuel’s Grande Manor, Deen will stop by the recently opened showroom in Clarence for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The showroom came about through a partnership with the Nanula family, whose members specialize in investments such as banks, law practices and accounting firms, providing many partnerships in the effort to find local manufacturers for Paula Deen’s products.

With designs reminiscent of Deen’s home kitchen and her other retail store in Savannah, Ga., the location of the Western New York store works cohesively with recreating an authentic southern atmosphere.

“With a quaint, colonial look, a lot of the architecture in Western New York is the same as you would see in Savannah,” Gallegos said.

Having a showroom is a chance for the company to get Deen’s products into local retailers. Gallegos said that currently, Dash’s Market carries her chicken products, and other select items can be found in Wegmans. Her full line of Paula’s Pantry products is available on her website, www.PaulaDeen.com.

Additionally, Deen’s announcement that she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and a local partnership with Landies Candies, which creates confections for Wegmans, led to the creation of a full line of sugar-free candies. The showroom also offers lighter options to Deen’s signature food products and recipes.

Offering a small sample of products from Paula’s Pantry, the intent of the showroom is to familiarize people with what the line has to offer, with more products being developed and more rolling out to large retailers in the near future.

“People love the idea of getting to buy items, while some just come in to browse; it’s very low key,” Gallegos said.

Plans for 2014 will bring re-engagements with the community.

As Paula Deen Foods continues to grow, Gallegos said the company doesn’t plan to open other locations but rather to grow the business in an effort to help improve the employment situation in Western New York.

“This company is a display of the magnitude of the type of business the Nanula family is involved in. We’re proud of our association with Paula and optimistic about the future,” Gallegos said. “It says a lot about the local business people here. … Whichever way we can, we’re going to try to benefit Western New York.”

email: jwaters @beenews.com

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