The History of The Lady & Sons
The Lady & Sons restaurant had its humble beginnings back in June 1989 when Paula Deen started The Bag Lady out of her home. The Bag Lady began as a lunch delivery service with Paula's sons, Jamie and Bobby, delivering bag lunches to area business people in their offices around town. As the delivery and catering business grew, The Bag Lady expanded in 1991 into a full service restaurant named The Lady in the Best Western hotel on Savannah's Southside.
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. But Paula wanted a new home for The Lady, one in which the ambience matched the style of food. She found the perfect place in the old Sears & Roebuck building in Downtown Savannah on Congress Street and agreed to a long-term lease that needed renovations on just a handshake and a smile.
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 starting 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 nation attention.
In December 1999, The Lady & Sons was 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 awaiting grand opening of the new home for The Lady & Sons came in November 2003, just seven days before Thanksgiving, the restaurants biggest 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. So what's next for The Lady & Sons? We are lucky enough to have a piece of the puzzle left at our new home that has not been renovated yet. In the near future we plan to renovate those three floors for various expansion needs that our growth has brought us. As Paula Deen has been blessed, so has The Lady & Sons restaurant. We invite you to come join us and experience our home cooking, our Southern hospitality and good times!