The History of The Lady & Sons

Paula’s landmark restaurant, The Lady and Sons, had its humble beginnings back in June 1989 when Paula started The Bag Lady out of her home and ultimately moving into a Best Western with a buffet.

The Lady became quite successful over the next several years, as the locals who had become familiar faces with The Bag Lady became familiar faces at The Lady.

With The Lady’s lease running out at the Best Western in 1995, Paula, Jamie, and Bobby relied on the income from The Bag Lady catering business to keep them until the new restaurant opened. After nearly eight months of renovations and being overdrawn on both bank accounts, The Lady & Sons opened its doors Downtown on January 8, 1996.

The familiar faces followed The Lady Downtown to The Lady & Sons at their new location, and fans eventually started coming as well after the publication of Paula’s first two cookbooks. Along with the lines that were forming on the sidewalks outside the front door, the restaurant began to gain local, regional, and national attention.

In December 1999, The Lady & Sons were named “International Meal of the Year” by USA Today. In December 2002, the restaurant was featured in a multi-page feature article in Southern Living Magazine. In 2003, the restaurant was named Georgia’s Small Business of the Year. And in September of the same year, The Lady & Sons was honored with 1st Runner-Up for National Small Business of the Year at the SBA Awards Ceremony in Washington, DC.

Over the next several years, Paula began acquiring property for the next home of The Lady & Sons just down the street in the old White Hardware Building. In 2001, the year before her show began on the Food Network, the last piece of the puzzle was purchased. After fourteen months of renovations, the much-awaited grand opening of the new home for The Lady & Sons came in November 2003, just seven days before Thanksgiving, the restaurant’s most important day of the year. The new building is a renovated 200-year-old three-story building plus basement with 15,000 square feet of dining, full-service bar, and office space. With the move in 2003, The Lady & Sons went from 85 seats to nearly 330 seats in the new location at 102 W Congress St. As Paula Deen has been blessed, so has The Lady & Sons restaurant. Today, the charming and historic three-story restaurant serves food family-style, bringing friends and loved ones together over a meal while offering up a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Endless portions of hearty entrées and side dishes, such as collard greens, crispy fried chicken, lima beans, and more, are passed around, and every guest ends their meal with a dessert of their choice!