Walli’s Restaurant demolished, a decades-long Burton destination

Burton, Michigan - Burton’s historic Walli’s will not return any more.

The property’s owner told MLive-The Flint Journal that the decades-old building is being demolished, and the demolition should be completed within two weeks.

The property’s current owner, Johnny Pesci, said the building had been broken into by multiple people and property damage exceeded $430,000. The damage occurred just three days after he purchased the building in December 2021.

Beshi bought the property from Community Choice Credit Union and now plans to sell the raw land relatively soon.

“I bought it from the bank and I wanted to open it as a restaurant,” Peshi said. “Just before I got it out of the bank, it was vandalized. All the copper was taken out, and people were making a crack in there. I couldn’t believe it.”

The restaurant closed in 2019 due to water damage.

Burton’s opened in 1972 as Walli’s East as part of an expansion by founder Arne Walli. The Fox Sports and Grill shared the building with Walli’s.

Walli’s history includes opening a restaurant in 1958 in the area followed by purchasing a garage three years later on the same property.

The business expanded in 1964, with the opening of a new Walli’s West on West Pierson Road in Mt. Morris Township and Walli’s Scandia Hall built in 1969, across from the Supper Club. When the original supper club was destroyed by fire in 1980, Arnie built a new version behind Walli’s West.

Pesci bought the property for $400,000, and he said property taxes cost him $50,000 a year, along with $2,000 a month in sewage taxes.

“I told myself I don’t use it,” Pesci said. “Why am I going to pay this? I’m just going backwards. It turned out to be a real disaster.”

People in the Burton area were prompted by Wally’s question as to what was happening to the building. A Facebook post from a resident showing the demolition generated over 600 shares.

Beshi owns numerous hotels, shopping malls, and restaurants across the country, and has been a business owner most of his life. Originally from West Bloomfield, he was unfamiliar with the Burton area when he bought Walli’s.

“The city, frankly, isn’t encouraging me to reopen. They just didn’t care. It looked like a nice corner and had a lot of history. It’s been there a long time and has done a lot of work,” Pesci said.

While Walli’s has provided many memories to the community over the years, no more memories will be created moving forward.

“I did my best,” Peshi said. “I wanted to be part of this community.”

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