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Paula Deen addresses racism scandal during local appearance

PaulaYOLOEmbattled celebrity chef Paula Deen was in Williamsville this weekend, hosting a cooking demonstration for a near-capacity crowd of 1,100 enthusiastic fans at Samuel's Grande Manor. After entering to a standing ovation, Deen addressed the scandal that erupted last year when it came out that she had used racial slurs. The reaction left her with a cancelled Food Network TV show and caused several retailers such as Home Depot and Walmart to drop her line of cookware.

“I have so many friends here, so many people who believe in me. My partners who never quit believing in me, who knew who I was and were steadfast in your love for me. Thank y’all," Deen said.

At one point, Deen singled out Savino Nanula, the Tops Friendly Markets founder and a partner in her Paula Deen Foods venture, who was sitting in the front row.

"Isn't that right, Nino?" she said, before kissing the top of his head. The crowd laughed and applauded.

She went on to address the scandal directly:

“I had a rough year. My family had a rough year. My partners had a rough year. But we all learned a lot.

In June, when people were saying terrible things about me that were not true, it was heartbreaking. But I told my family, don’t ask me how I know this, but God’s arms are wrapped all around us. We’re gonna be all right. And we’re gonna be better than we ever were.

You’ve got to go down in the valley to enjoy the days when you’re on the peak of that mountain overlooking everything. You’ve got to have those days.

I said I’m not gonna talk about that. And what do I do? First thing I do is come out here and talk about it.

I just want you all to know I cannot ignore it and I can’t go without saying that we are not looking back anymore, we’re only looking to the future and with a family like the Nanulas that have loved me unconditionally and who have believed in me. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve made so many new friends here in Buffalo."

Deen arrived in town Thursday afternoon, stopping in Rochester to visit a Wegmans store, then appearing at Dash's Markets to promote her Springer Mountain Farms chicken.

She also visited Landies Candies, the Buffalo company that makes her Paula Deen Foods sugar-free chocolate, handmaking a batch of chocolate herself. She cut the ribbon on her Paula Deen Foods retail showroom in Clarence Saturday before her appearance at Samuel's Grande Manor.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

All abuzz over Trader Joe's

So maybe Trader Joe's, the California specialty grocer that has built an almost cult-like following, is coming to Western New York.

We don't know where - or even if Trader Joe's is coming for sure. But the good folks at the Kenmore Village Improvement Society, who have been practically begging the chain to come to Kenmore, say they have it on good authority that Trader Joe's will make its debut here sometime by the end of next year.

"We created a buzz," says Melissa Foster, the group's president, referring to its campaign to lure the chain to Kenmore.

Unfortunately for the Kenmore folks, it doesn't look like Trader Joe's has its eyes on the village, but rather other potential destinations in the Buffalo Niagara region.

But it does make sense for Trader Joe's to move into Buffalo. The chain opened its first store in the Albany suburbs in early August, with a line of several hundred shoppers that, in the words of the Albany Business Review, "snaked from the front door, around the parking lot and to the main entrance at 79 Wolf Road."

I can't say I've ever been excited enough about grocery shopping to wait in line to do it. Then again, I don't like shopping much.

Trader Joe's also set to open in the Rochester market - in the suburb of Pittsford - next month.

Buffalo will be just another stop along the way.

Of course, Trader Joe's arrival would be bad news for all of the other grocery stores in the Buffalo Niagara region, for the simple reason that any customers who shop at Trader Joe's won't be buying those same items at Tops, Wegmans, Dash's, Aldi, or Save-A-Lot.

That's not an inconsequential impact, because the Buffalo Niagara region is losing people, which means there are fewer people buying groceries here. And since grocery shopping isn't the kind of thing you drive to another city a couple hours away to do (your ice cream would melt!), all Trader Joe's would do is take its slice of the region's food-shopping dollars from the chains that already are here.

But it will keep Tops, Wegmans, Walmart and all the rest on their toes. And that's a good thing.

-David Robinson

 

 

 

Wegmans...the Musical!

What is it about Wegmans? The Rochester-based grocer doesn't take long to make an impression, that's for sure.

Wegmans

Northborough, Mass., got its first Wegmans supermarket just last fall, but already, the advanced drama class at the town's Algonquin Regional High School has written and performed a musical about it.

Wegmans officials have said they are flattered by the attention and recently gave the school a small thank you.

"This morning, Bill Congdon made a special visit to the drama class at Algonquin Regional High School. The New England division manager for Wegmans Food Markets was there to thank the class for its recent performance of 'Wegmans … the Musical'.

Wegmans

In addition to bringing bagels and cream cheese, donuts, and juice, Congdon surprised everyone at the school by presenting a one-time scholarship certificate of $1,000. 'The students did such a fantastic job of learning about our company, observing what we do, and then telling the story on stage. We wanted them to know that we appreciate their hard work and are honored that they chose us as their subject,' said Congdon," reads a press release on the company's Web site.
Seriously? After all that, they throw the kids some bagels? You'd think they'd at least get a sushi platter or something. And a $1,000 scholarship? That ought to cover a graphing calculator or two. The story of this school's musical, which was like a live-action love letter to the company, got picked up by every news outlet from CNBC to Huffington Post. You can't buy that kind of publicity.

Here are some highlights from the show which, by all reports, was a resounding success.