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 (445)

  1. Paul says:

    Marina was a hard case. Try as he might, Robert can't change,in two days, lifelong compulsions to yell at staff, micro-manage and refuse to see one's own failures. That sort of psychological transformation is far beyond the scope of the program. The so obvious fact that her son has no business being in that restaurant day in and day out continues to escape Marina which tell me she continues to be a hard case. If she fails it will be on her head. Marina was one of the least likable and sympathetic restaurant owners I've ever seen on the show-I just could not warm up to her or feel happy for her. __

  2. pissed says:

    OMG,you can,t fix stupid,what a patehtic situation!!!!

  3. Brenda says:

    After reading the article looks like the only advice she took was on the decor. Sounds like she went back to her old menu that wasn't working to begin with and still had her son there all the time. That's such a safety issue especially if he's allowed in the kitchen. No wonder she can't get and keep good help with that temper.

  4. Melissa says:

    As a mother I understand how hard it is to work and raise children and how you feel guilty if you are away from them but you cannot have a child running through a restaurant. Not only is it a safety hazard for a child to be in the kitchen,but it also runs customers away. Nobody can enjoy dinner with a screaming child running through the restaurant and banging on tables. When I saw that she changed him on the prep table I was disgusted. That is such a health risk. Nobody wants to eat food that has came in to contact with a dirty diaper. Sadly I think her business will fail.

  5. Randi says:

    According to Yelp, this restaurant has since closed. Bummer.

  6. applestycx says:

    This was one show that should have never aired. In fact , it should have been obvious this woman needed to be committed instead of being in charge of a restaurant. Should have walked away from this one !

  7. rlindydiane says:

    Well this episode was definitely produced for entertainment purposes only. You knew maybe ten minutes into the episode that this restaurant was doomed to fail. She said her staff is her family, she doesnt have any family without them, WTF! You cannot be someones boss and their friend let alone their "family." Talk about needy and PATHETIC! Overall IDU why these businesses refuse to do what Robert tells them to do! He's a successful chef with his own TV show giving you your very last chance at success, just do it! I agree with a great deal of these comments acutally. Everyone that posted about her kid were spot on! That whole situation made me just sick to my stomach. Yes Marina America thinks your a NUT JOB! Sorry to say but you chose to broadcast your business to the masses so now we have the right to give out opinions. These ppl with these restaurants should think through whether Robert coming to "save" their business is really worth the publicity.

  8. JBL says:

    The classic R.I. show is scripted, if you look closely at what's going on in the background it takes a couple weeks and a big team with trucks and trailers set up in the parking lot to do makeovers, everyone who has a speaking part has $50,000 worth of cosmetic dentistry. Reality shows? WHAT reality?

    Lately (2013) I see that R.I. has cut down on the drama and the make overs are much simpler.

  9. luvs2hyk says:

    Aside from the knowledge that the show is purposefully designed to bring out the drama for entertainment and viewership – I have reservations about this particular episode due to the high degree of personality dysfunction, being not so pleasant to watch. What really was offputting besides her own temper tantrums with her adult staff members, was the fact that she blatantly defended having her two year old son running amok by saying he will be managing these people in a few years – this was one of the most offensive comments I have ever heard on this show. Not only is she breaking numerous codes of conduct herself and placing her child in danger (lack of supervision, doors unlocked, strangers coming and going, kitchen hazards, etc), she is exposing her guests and staff to constant disruptions and making them all responsible for his well-being. No wonder the staff can't stay focused and enjoy their jobs. If I were a diner there, I would not go back, and I adore children. When she became a mother, she should have made the decision to either stay at home with him, hire a nanny or put him in daycare like millions of other working parents. There has to be separation of work and home life.. He could still visit Mom briefly at work, but separate from the dining area and kitchen. I agree that this owner is not using much logic in her business and personal life.

  10. TVC says:

    I am amazed every time I see this show. There is no way in hell a restaurant can be remodeled like they do it in 2 days. I know they work through the night. I saw them do the Soup to Nuts Diner in Tavares, Fl. It has since closed. Robert Irvine is a great Chef and teacher. But these people resent him telling them they are a failure. They see that they do not belong in the business and leave. Even the family owned ones. It is a rare thing to see a family work together in any endeavor, let alone a restaurant. And succeed. Exterminators alone take two days to get rid of roaches and that does not always do it. Family owned businesses do not work

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