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Harrah’s adds Paula Deen Buffet

Oct 9, 2007 5:52 AM

Wolfgang Puck was one of the stars at last week’s opening of MGM Detroit, a new MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM) upscale hotel/casino that will feature a Puck restaurant, as well as another by famed chef Michael Mina.

Puck has developed a television following by spending time peddling his kitchen wares but the "Queen of the Kitchen" who now dominates the Food Network is "Hi y’all" Paula Deen.

And it’s Deen that Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) decided to partner with as the company renames its Grand Casino Resort in Tunica, Miss., after it finishes a $45 million overhaul of the casino.

The property, scheduled to open in May 2008 will then be called Harrah’s Casino Tunica and it will feature Paula Deen’s Buffet.

"We are pleased to work with Paula Deen at Harrah’s Casino Tunica," said Bill Wright, the property’s general manger.

"We believe this will be a tremendous draw to our property and to the market since this restaurant will be second only to the Lady and Son’s in Savannah, Georgia."

Deen, who has seen her popularity skyrocket in the past two years, operates the Savannah restaurant with her two sons, who also star in some of her Food Network segments, as well as in shows of their own.

During the announcement of the new relationship, Deen was quoted as saying she planned to "bring my vision and food to all my fans at the new Harrah’s Casino Tunica."

John Payne, Harrah’s central division president, said, "This $45 million investment at our largest property in Tunica, the third largest gaming market in the United States is further proof that Harrah’s Entertainment is committed to continue to enhance our network of branded properties around the world."

Harrah’s Entertainment is in the process of a leveraged buyout by the partnership of private equity firms Apollo Group and Texas Pacific Group. The $92 per share buyout will be reviewed for the first time by the New Jersey Gaming Control Board on Oct. 17. No date has been set, as yet, by the Nevada gaming regulators for its review.