Restaurant Revisited: Paliani’s Restaurant

by in Shows, September 12th, 2012

Restaurant Impossible
At Paliani’s Restaurant in Burton, Mich., Robert Irvine found a decades-old Italian eatery in desperate need of a Restaurant: Impossible overhaul. He had only two days to tackle the filthy interior and disorganized kitchen at Paliani’s, and help give owner Marina Bufalini the tools to improve her management. We checked in with Marina to see how Paliani’s is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation.

Marina is happy to report that since the transformation, sales at Paliani’s have increased. In June and July, the restaurant saw year-over-year growth of 46 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

Paliani’s has seen a mix of returning and first-time customers coming to see the makeover and taste the new food. While some longtime diners have struggled to adapt to the updated decor and menu, many new customers are pleased, as is Marina. Of the restaurant’s fresh look, she says, “I love the decor and how the light panels on the wall brighten everything and give the room more dimension.”

Marina has made a few changes to Paliani’s menu since Robert left. She is once again serving breadsticks, antipasto salad and pizzas, and is now giving customers the option of adding a salad to their entrée for $2 extra. She says that “the most popular dish continues to be pizza, followed by the chicken and then lasagna.” In the future, she hopes to start serving lunch, though she knows that she’ll need to tweak her menu to offer more traditional “daytime meals.”

Although Rob and Tony are no longer cooks at Paliani’s, Lisa continues to work the front of house. Marina says that she is looking to hire a kitchen manager, and thinks that she will promote someone already on staff.

While her son, Nico, still comes to the restaurant several days a week, Marina tells us that he will soon start attending daycare more often.

Marina thanks Robert and the entire Restaurant: Impossible team for giving Paliani’s Restaurant a second chance at success. “The process was difficult and still is on some days, but I am better for it,” she says.

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Frankie’s (September 5)
Gusanoz (August 29)
Stella’s (August 8)
Italian Village (August 1)
Zandi’s (July 25)
The Main Dish (July 18)
Longbranch Steak and Seafood (July 11)
Horton’s Kids (June 13)
Pollard’s (May 30)
University Grill (May 23)
Ristorante Barolo (May 16)
Pappas (May 9)
Mama Lee’s (May 2)
Pelican Grill (April 25)
Valley View (March 14)

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Comments (440)

  1. devans00 says:

    Owner Marina Bufalini is one of the thickest headed people featured on Restaurant Impossible. The moment I saw her son running around screaming and bugging customers, I knew things weren't going to end well. Then I saw the disgusting shirts and aprons on the kitchen staff and got quesy.

    Props to RI folks, they did an awesome job. The menu items looked mouthwatering. Loved the light panels.

  2. Shawn says:

    Anyone who has family & staff walk away, and then the owner says she doesn't know why… is in REAL TROUBLE… people who can't deal with their own personal issues & let those issues into their business world – are on a very slippery slope. Wish her well – but she better understand that issues only hibernate until the next, inevitable obstacle.

  3. John says:

    What do any of these comments have to do with the article. Seems more like the authors friends coming to the page to kiss some butt.

    • anti-spam says:

      it's spammers hawking their wares by trying to lure/trick people into clicking. make sure you down-vote and report all spam.

  4. @Nashfan555 says:

    Honestly I am stunned by this episode. If Marina lived in my state, Child Protective Servces would be involved after seeing the child in the kitchen on film. She obviously has huge guilt regarding the child needing daycare but imagine the guilt if there was an accident in the kitchen involving the child. Not to mention that being in that setting is not at all beneficial for his cognitive and social well-being secondary to the physical safety issue that is so prevelant. I just cannot imagine what she is thinking about. I would never pay for my meal and be subjected to a toddler running out of control only to find out he was an employee's child muh less the owner's. It is really sad for the both of them….and will only worsen

  5. Carolyn says:

    After watching RI i invited friends to go this restaurant in Burton. I was soo excited to try Robert's menu items. I ordered the chicken, which on the show was bone-in chicken served on polenta. What I got was a seasoned chicken breast – plain! Others ordered spaghetti w meatballs. Each one of us were not only disappointed but the food was awful. It's a shame Robert took his time & money to waste on someone like her. This restaurant will not last!!

    • guest says:

      She didn't do anything he said. When we were there so was her son. She was hididng behind the counter and didn't greet us.
      it was just on the news she is closing! Not a big surprise!!

  6. guest says:

    Your inhalation? You can't breathe without it?

  7. Dawn says:

    Dear Robert, Paliani's is closing the doors as of Dec. 31,2012. Just wanted you to know this. Sorry for all the hard work you put in to that place.

    • Dirtsandwich says:

      When you are 600k in debt, it's a safe bet that her intention was to just take the renovation to get a better sale price. She just has to act like she tried for a few months. What a scam. I hope she can't sell it. They should put into the contract that you can't sell it for a year or more.

      The ENTIRE problem regarding Paliani's is the owner. All else are excuses. PROOF, there are plenty of other restaurants in the area that are staying open. Gee, how are they managing that? It's not the chef's fault. She has agree to what is being served. Robert yelling at her chef's were wrong.

      • Nobody says:

        If they closed the doors, she probably didn't just sell it. More likely, when you're 600k in debt it's probably cheaper to close your doors than continue to lose money each month. Agree the owner is at fault — chefs shouldn't bust their butts to help the owner, they should because it's their job. If they don't do their job they should be fired.

      • Margie says:

        It was clear to me while watching the show that Marina had no clue how to run a restaurant. Having a 2 year old running around would turn me off as a customer and allowing him to do so was totally unsafe. I am sorry to hear that she couldn't make a go of it. She was given very good advice and as much help as possible. That line of business just is't for her.

    • Amy says:

      I, too, saw that on the news about their closing at 9:00 p.m. on Dec, 31st, It's a shame! I've been there twice since the remodle and took out-of-state family there.

      • Leighanna says:

        I'm glad the place has closed…in the initial follow up report it says she STILL continues to allow her son to "play" in (destroy) the business having a toddler in any business other than a day care is not safe, smart or sanitary especially a food establishment….not to mention the other reports of low quality food and her lack of control when it comes to her temper….It's a shame too see Roberts hard work go to waste….maybe FN should have a few surprise follow up shows a few months after the mission…..

        • Bebp says:

          I totally agreed me actually is interested in reviewing in restaraunts to see how their progress goes but it seems Robert yelled and screamed and it all went to waste.

    • tracie says:

      wow thanks for posting this,,thats a shame,,,a beautiful job robert did all for nothing,,,sad:(
      that wman should be ashamed of herself:(

  8. olderguy says:

    Love the follow-up feature. Too bad Palianais couldn't keep her kid out of the place. I guess some 'regulars' also didn't want things to change either. Perhaps they might have stayed if she decided to focus only on pizza, with ivy trimmings?

    • Jouby97 says:

      No wonder she couldn't survive in her restaurant business; she was running a daycare business instead. Did anyone notice in the Paliana's kitchen picture above, that two of the chefs have on filthy chef aprons? YUCK>

    • Brian says:

      Yes, The menu that Robert said was horrible, was loved by this regular and his family.

  9. foodnetwork fan says:

    Why is there so much crap in this blog about the website and the blog. This is supposed to be about the restaurant.

  10. Brian says:

    It's too bad that they closed. I just got a chance to watch the show(dvr) and I was hoping to visit. Sounds like Maria didn't listen to everything Robert tried to teach her.

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