Blaze engulfs longtime family restaurant in Walled Lake

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A longtime Walled Lake business was destroyed by a fire, lasting more than eight hours Monday.

The good news is that it is closed on Mondays so no one was hurt in the fire, but the bad news is that Peppino's restaurant, a staple in the community, is probably a total loss.

The flames were still raging hours after the fire started and longtime customers, passersbys and gawkers gathered to watch the restaurant become a charred shell.

"Nothing is as bad as coming and seeing it," said Carol Bernardi.

Carol and Kathy Bernardi are the owners of Peppino's restaurant, a family business their parents started more than 30 years ago - and one they watched  a fire destroy

"It's going to be missed," said one customer. "It's too bad, it's a shame really."
The fire started a little before 3 p.m. Monday afternoon. Firefighters encountered heavy smoke and flames coming from the kitchen, which quickly spread to the roof.

"The roof has a really thick membrane of rubber about 12 inches thick," said Walled Lake Fire Chief Jim Coomer, adding that's not the only thing giving them trouble. "It's a real old building, there's a lot of voids, a lot of hidden spaces that's (made it) a real stubborn fire to put out."

The fire displaced a handful of tenants that live in an apartment building near the restaurant. Firefighters rescued a cat from inside as well as four ferrets.

The Bernardis are also trying to finding some good in this otherwise unfortunate situation. They are thankful no one was hurt, and they have every intent to rebuild.

"We never planned on not being at Peppino's, so yes," Carol said.

It is  possible this fire started in the kitchen but the fire chief says they won't know what caused it until they're able to get inside - from the looks of things that won't be for a while.