Under questioning in the lawsuit, Deen was also asked to explain why she had suggested that all black waiters be hired for her brother's wedding in 2007. She said she had been inspired by another restaurant where the entire wait staff was middle aged black men. The idea was quickly dismissed.
The situation has made Deen the subject of some online mockery, with Twitter users suggesting new "Paula's best dishes" that include "Cotton Pickin' Fried Chicken" and "We Shall Over-Crumb Cake."
Last year, her career took a serious knock when she revealed that she had diabetes for three years while promoting high-fat, high-sugar recipes like deep-fried cheesecake and bacon-and-egg doughnut sandwiches. She made the revelation as she signed on as the face of an initiative by a diabetes drug company.
Deen lost weight after the admission and now tells people to eat fatty recipes in moderation, but she hasn't backed away from the butter. In fact, she recently came out with her own line of "finishing butters."
In Savannah on Thursday, Waridi Stewart of Brooklyn, N.Y., took a pass on the buffet at Deen's restaurant. She said it was because the wait was too long.
"I feel nothing toward her in terms of her being white and me being black," Stewart said. "The food is good. I'm not here because of Paula. I'm here because of the food."
But she said Deen needs to be careful about what she says.
Connie Caprara of Norwalk, Ohio, brought her family to lunch at The Lady and Sons Thursday even though she had read about Deen's remarks. She said boycotting the restaurant would unfairly punish its employees.
"We've all said things we didn't mean to say," said Caprara, a 48-year-old billing agent for a medical practice. "But somebody in her position really needs to filter whatever comes out of her mouth."
Associated Press Writer Russ Bynum in Savannah, Ga.; Food Writer J.M. Hirsch and National Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio in New York contributed to this report.