Paula Hiers was born in 1947 in Albany Georgia. She studied the art of cooking by watching her grandmother in the kitchen. While attending high school Paula met Jimmy Deen whom she married shortly after high school. After having two children, Paula’s early marriage resulted in a divorce. Paula struggled so much financially that she began to suffer from agoraphobia. When Paula was finally able to venture outside of her home, she took a job as a bank teller where she was robbed at gunpoint. Deen’s nervous condition became so severe that she even cancelled all of her sons’ extra-curricular activities. Deen conceived a new business around her phobia, calling it The Bag Lady in which she created bag lunches and had her sons deliver them to local businesses. Two years later she opened a restaurant (The Lady) at a local Best Western Hotel. The restaurant was such a success that in 1996 she had to expand and moved the business to an old Sears and Roebuck building. In 1997 Paula published her first cook book, The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cooking.