Our girlfriend trip to Panama City Beach was filled with great
conversations and plenty of delicious food, to include an outing to Pier
Park for shopping therapy and touring the countless variety of
establishments. The morning was filled with trying on clothes, looking
at jewelry and searching for that perfect pair of shoes; suddenly we
were hungry and discussing where to eat. I reminded Marcia that Paula
Deen had opened a restaurant in April so along with assistance from Mary
Jo and Bev we began searching for her new establishment.
While locating a parking place I observed a black Suburban with dark
windows parked in a restricted area in the rear of the building with
a police car parked nearby; signaling a VIP in the immediate vicinity.
The restaurant is bright, complete with a gift shop of Paula’s products
and cookbooks in the front; the booths are roomy and the food is
Our first waitress was friendly and when I asked her when she had
last seen Paula Deen she whispered, "She is here today"; well, I knew
immediately that I was going to do my best to see her again. When
I inquired about who was traveling with her and found out it was
her husband Michael, I asked if it was possible to speak to him.
Within minutes Michael Groover was chatting with us at our table and
I explained that I met Paula a few years ago in Savannah and told
him that we were born in the same hospital; I remember when I told her
that information that she laughed and said that we could have
Michael said she was doing an interview and then eating lunch but he
would see if she had a few minutes to visit with us. Then I discovered
from a cute waiter that Tracey was a representative of the restaurant
association; he located her and introduced her to our group. Tracey
said Paula was busy of course but she was willing to ask if she could
take the time for a short visit and pictures.
By then, our meal had arrived and I can report that the food is just as
delicious as it is at the "Lady and Sons" in Savannah; Paula serves the
best fried chicken that can be found and she tells that the secret is to
marinating it in hot red pepper sauce, the heat cooks out but leaves the
Within a few minutes of enjoy dessert, Tracey came and signaled for us to
follow her, and within seconds, I was sitting in a booth with Paula Deen.
She said Michael told her about our group of ladies who wanted to speak
to her and that she was delighted to meet us. We chatted and made
pictures as countless other customers looked on and made pictures.
As we were leaving I realized that we missed getting a picture
with Michael but he was standing outside, just like he was waiting for