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 (437)

  1. Paul says:

    JBL, and the others that believe it can't be done in two days. When they remodeled Bryant's Seafood in Hueytown, Al.(set to air in April), they were only here for two days. I should know, I live in the area and grew up in Hueytown. They did an awesome job. As for this owner, she should have fired the one person responsible for her failures, herself. Some people have no common sense. These people ask them to come out and help but most put up a fight and argue with the professional help that they seemed out in the first place. Some people are just idiots.

  2. Robert says:

    Love this program, but this episode was a joke. I would rather see Robert walk away than use his resources, time and talents on a place that is just going to go broke, from a stupid owner. Since she couldn't figure out that having her child on premises was bad for business and dangerous to boot, it was clear she wasn't going to make the place successful. I wonder if sometimes the owners just use the remodel with the intention of selling. They probably make much more off the business after it's been redone by the great builders and designers from RI. I knew this one didn't stay in business before I even checked. Really, the producers should let Robert walk from these doomed redo's.

  3. Thank you for sharing this great content. I agree with you.

  4. lily says:

    that kid CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be in a restaurant!! health and safety concerns are enormous and I am glad that Robert Irvine at least tried to convince her he should not be brought into the restaurant…maybe when he is older (at least 8 or 9) when he knows not to go into the kitchen or to bother people eating. find a good quality daycare or even a babysitter ( although good daycare prepares him for kindergarten and has other kids there,and as a plus daycare can offer a 7 days a week program while babysitters and much harder to schedule 24/7) why cant she understand this would be WAY more beneficial to her childs well-being instead of sitting in a busy dangerous restaurant HE COULD BE KIDNAPPED IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE and never be seen again!! (sorry if this comment is a little long I wanted to rant about her decisions)

  5. KimD says:

    I was not surprised this place closed (it was in the local news). She asked for help and would not listen to Robert. Why ask for help and noot do it? For I knew I wasn't going to it when they said what they said in the update.

  6. SuchAShame says:

    Paliani's was an old family restaurant for years, I grew up not far from it. It was one of our family favorites, the lasagna was incredible. When the original family sold the business it was a business in great shape, there were people that had left the state that would go eat there when coming home to visit family After she bought Paliani's it was never the same, food was not the same. She took a successful business and destroyed it. It's failure had nothing to do with Restaurant Impossible changing the recipes, it was doomed from her management. I know people that saw her kid running around in the restaurant, scary to think they may have been there to eat on one of the diaper changing days.

  7. Ashlee says:

    ya umm i would think they would put it away cuz YOU didnt take care of it. then when i asked for a refill cuz she didnt offer she brought me back pop instead of water then took another 15 min to even check on us. i was so disgusted i didnt even eat my meal because i was so mad! it was so bad we left without tipping which has never ever happened anywhere because both my bf and i have been a part of waitstaff before at restaurants. then after we left i decided to call the owner to complain about this waitress and all she could say she was new and she would say something to her. i was like seriously?! well just so she knows i will never ever return!! i ate the before the remodel and i love it cuz her son and my son are the same age and one of the times during dinner they were playing with each other and she was so sweet but after this is just pissed me off. best believe i been bad mouthing this place because of my service and her LACK OF CONCERN!

  8. beachinfrizzy says:

    I know, how obnoxious is that? "Yeah my kid is costing you tips by bothering the people at your tables, but you're going to work for him someday, because you're "family" and will be tied to me and this crap-hole the rest of your life, so deal with it!" And that makeup? Looked like she had two black eyes.

  9. geo1113 says:

    One shouldn't bring children into the world if they can't care for the child properly.

  10. Shaking my head says:

    You have lost your mind. If you are at work and you child is there with you, what you are teaching your child is that he is not your first priority and at this age he is too young to understand why. It does more damage than good.

  11. Jackhammer says:

    Leave your toddler with some random person? umm, what does that even mean? you scout a daycare the same way you scout a restaurant, by reading reviews and word of mouth. anyway, personally, if I ate at a restaurant and a small child was running around like it was a playground, it would be bad enough if it was the child of another customer, but the owner? I would never return. Then she says that he will soon start attending daycare more often? I give that restaurant 6 months to live.

  12. Linda says:

    Besides the fact that it is extremely annoying to customers, it is also dangerous for a small child to be running around a restaurant. A well run day care facility is a much better choice. How much time can she be spending with the kid if she is doing what she is supposed to be doing, which is running a restaurant? And just so you know, you don't leave the child with some "random person". You investigate and find a proper, safe, well run facility. [polldaddy 6534460 polldaddy][polldaddy 6534460 polldaddy]

  13. Debbie says:

    You obviously are not very well educated in child care. I owned my business and yes I did have my children with me in my office, when they were babies. As soon as they reached an age where they did more than eat sleep and play a little I put each one of them into a more rewarding and safe environment. My I am an awful mother.

  14. Guest2 says:

    Guest – if you cannot work without having your toddler next to you, SELL THE BUSINESS AND DO THE REST OF US A FAVOR!!! We don't need snot-nosed kids bugging us while we eat. Either ditch the kid or ditch the business – PERIOD!

  15. Random person? Yes, I just left my beloved child with the homeless guy on the corner. NO, I checked references, educational background, certifications, etc. My daughter was able to be in a wonderful setting where childhood behaviors are acceptable and allowed, I focused on my work, and when we were home I could focus on her. There is nothing wrong with a mother working, either because she needs to or wants to. It is much better to have a child in a safe and appropriate setting than to expect behaviors the child is not capable of and punishing the child for their normal, age appropriate behaviors.

  16. should of listened says:

    Marina has had some talent in her Kitchen but never allowed them to show it. Myself I gave her Great Ideas but were all shot down. I brought in 28 years an a Culinary Degree and was shot down. It's a shame that it has gotten to this point. Soon it will all be a great memory for some and a true nightmare for others.

  17. guest says:

    Dave Ramsey would have shot her in the face the minute she told him that she mortgaged a paid for house to buy a restaurant when she has no experience or training.

  18. Ashton says:

    Joanne, do you eat at Archie's, Sorrento's, what about E G Nick's in Lapeer? I know Archie's has never had a good handle on children, no normally not the owners child. But the worse of the three. Reason I picked these three is because they are within a 20 mile distance from Paliani's. I am not sure if you can really go to any restaurant without chancing there maybe a couple there with there child(ren). Nor can yiu be sure they did not bring something to stimulate the child(ren). Nor be sure they do keep the child(ren) in check or stop them from acting out in a loud manner. Specially in the toddler age range which is the hardest age range to keep entertained or seated for a long period of time. So everytime you go out to eat, you chance that situation

  19. ariella says:

    Agreed. I worked at a couple of chain restaurants and both are family friendly. I’ve never seen a small child act like Nico where he not only runs around but goes to other tables where PAYING customers are dining at. He should be in daycare and be allowed to play with other kids. Let him burn his energy at the playground! He’d love it way more than being bored out of his mind while his mommy supposedly works.

  20. ariella says:

    Yep Dave Ramsey would give Marina a smackdown and tell her how stupid she is to have thrown her money away. However it’s done and she’s got to salvage what she has left. She doesn’t have people skills nor does she care about the poor customer service or food. Marina doesn’t realize it’s cheaper to put her son in daycare than having the lost revenue her restaurant would have made as she allows him to run amok and disrupting PAYING customers.

    Customers also speak with their wallets and Marina has to understand that.

  21. keelhaulrose says:

    Going out to eat often comes with the risk of dealing with unruly children, but every place I've been to will ask any family with one who are not controlling them to leave. When that child is the owner's son no one is going to get rid of that child. I've seen unruly children and their families kicked out of restaurants and told not to come back, and I've seen restaurants that don't seem to care that there are little monsters running around and annoying customers. Guess which ones I go back to?
    Though I wouldn't eat at Paliani's now just because of the whole 'changing on the kitchen table' comment. Even if she doesn't do it any more, the fact that she did it at once point speaks volumes for the standards of the restaurant.

  22. geo1113 says:

    What was your business, Debbie?

  23. girl from S.F. says:

    Could not agree more. I was a single Mom back in the 80's and worked in an office primarily. There is NO way i would ever bring my little boy to work. It is just not appropriatae, period.

  24. girl from S.F. says:

    Absolutely! This poor woman brings new meaning to the word disalusioned". Very sad for her son.

  25. Buckeye1 says:

    Along with your spelling.

  26. Julie - Florida, says:

    We do get the point though!

  27. Dirtsandwich says:

    Embarrassing to the human race.

  28. Gail says:

    Raven, if you want to run a successful restaurant, you need to focus on the establishment – not a child, period. Kudos if you've got a job where having an extra kid doesn't matter, but a restaurant is not one of them. I've been in the food industry for many decades and, speaking from experience, until she gets her personal life separated from the business, she will continue to struggle.

  29. Julie - Florida, says:

    One thing I will say for McDonalds and Chuck E Cheese, they don't let you bring your children to work.
    I would also bet that their food is better.

  30. Vicki says:

    I love kids, but I refuse to be sat next to children under, say, 8 y/o when out in any restaurant. It's funny b/c when my parents took my brothers and me out to restaurants, we sat quietly, ate our meals in a way that reflected the manners my parents instilled in us. Now, to be in a restaurant where I am paying my hard earned for, to hear the screams of a 2-3 y/o child, NO WAY. Get Nico into DAYCARE PRONTO!!! Either focus on your business in the dy, Nico at night – or close it up. I, too, want to know the story behind her family deserting her in the same town. no less……. BTW – I am a restaurant manager- 20 yrs in the biz, for a $5 mil/ yr location.

  31. Bonnie says:

    What???? What does that comment mean???? Don't understand what it means.

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