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Paliani’s Goes Out of Business Just Months After Being Featured on ‘Restaurant Impossible’

Tree Riddle, Banana 101.5

Paliani’s Restaurant has become the second long-running business in Burton to go under in the last month, Thrifty Drugs being the first. Get the details here.

After 47 years of business, Paliani’s Restaurant has closed its doors for the last time. The business had been struggling recently, an issue that was brought into the public eye when owner Marina Bufalini reached out to Food Network’s ‘Restaurant Impossible’ for help last summer. When Chef Robert Irvine brought the show to the Italian eatery, they were already in debt to the tune of $600,000. Apparently a few menu tweaks and a $10,000 update to the restaurant’s decor was not enough to keep them from going under.

“When you do something crazy like call a reality TV show… you either succeed very publicly or fail very publicly,” Bufalini told MLive. The episode, which was filmed in June and aired in September, initially boosted sales for a couple of months, but that didn’t last.”I thought, I can’t keep digging my hole for six months waiting for life to change. I just needed to stop the hemorrhaging,” said Bufalini. “It’s sad, it’s disappointing. I feel like I let myself down, I feel like I let the community down. I don’t know. I’m just sad.”

Many Burton natives share in Marina’s sadness, as Paliani’s had been family owned and operated in Burton since 1965. However, some had been unhappy with the direction of the restaurant for some time and some of the regulars were dissatisfied with the new menu after their relaunch. Judging from the comments on the Paliani’s Facebook page, their appearance on ‘Restaurant Impossible’ had painted Marina in a negative light and caused some to believe she has no business running a business — an assumption she is quick to refute in the comments section (see some of the back and forth on FB here).

Marina decided on Christmas Day that the business would be closing and the following day she announced via Facebook that the final day of business would be December 31st. After a busy final day, Bufalini wrote, “Thank you so much to my friends, staff, and customers for allowing me to fulfill one of my greatest dreams in owning my own restaurant… I so wish that all of this could have ended differently or maybe not at all but again thank you for the love support and encouragement throughout the last 5 1/2 years.”

For many who grew up in nearby neighborhoods, eating at Paliani’s was a tradition, as was shopping at Thrifty Drugs. Both are located off of Lapeer Rd., just blocks apart, and both are now out of business, the latter was reportedly bought out by nearby competitor, Rite Aid. There are now only a couple businesses still open in the formerly at capacity Burton Square Mini-Mall. Unfortunately, this is just another chapter in the decline of our local economy and the continuing collapse of area “Mom and Pop” joints.

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