Popolano's in Lansing to close in 2014

2013-12-18T12:45:00Z 2013-12-19T08:43:04Z Popolano's in Lansing to close in 2014Times Staff nwitimes.com
December 18, 2013 12:45 pm  • 

LANSING | A south suburban staple is closing after three decades.

Popolano's, 17940 Torrence Ave., announced Wednesday it will close its Lansing location after Jan. 1.

The Chesterton location, 225 S. Calumet Road, will remain open.

The Paliga family owns Popolano's and recently informed employees of the closure, according to a news release.

"It is a difficult decision,” Jerry Paliga said in the release. "We love our employees and customers very much and have deep passion for the industry. We’ve even had four generations of family working here making a lot of great memories."

Paliga said it's time to close.

“Something has to give,” he said. “I do not want to miss another of my son's football games, my daughter's musical performances or any other special family event, fighting to keep things going. However, we wanted to wait until after the new year for the sake of our employees.”

The family is working with potential buyers, but there is no official offer on the table, according to a statement.

The restaurant began to struggle in 2003, when major road construction forced other local businesses to close their doors. The Paliga family believed it had the resources to ride it out, not realizing how long it would take and what the ripple effect would be, the news release states.

Opening the Chesterton restaurant in 2003 added to the challenge.

"Three years later, things had started to improve when (we) began to experience new difficulties such as a smoking ban, record grocery inflation and other economic challenges," the news release states.

The family tightened its belt and remained optimistic, but the recession hit hard.

“Someone with proper resources could come in here and do extremely well," Paliga said. "We are not closing because of a lack of business. We are still very busy. We are closing because of a lack of resources. Now with the recession coming to an end, the legalization of video poker and the supposed coming of a Super Walmart, there is a lot more optimism.

"In the meantime, I want to focus on the running of my Chesterton store as a mom and pop place (like my mom and dad did 30 years ago) and to fulfill my obligations at the banquet halls."

Paliga said his parents, who were the original owners, still keep in touch with many of the original staff and customers from 30 years ago.

“It has been a joy being part of the lives of our customers and employees," he said. "We all feel that they are a part of our extended family."

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