Randville Bar & Grill: Couple set to mark a decade owning business

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WHILE DEBBIE AND PAUL Pucci have owned and operated the Randville Bar & Grill since September 2009, the restaurant and tavern has been a local fixture since the early 1900s, though only the antique bar and some of the taxidermy remain from the original building. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

RANDVILLE — When Paul and Debbie Pucci took ownership of the Randville Tavern — now known as the Randville Bar & Grill — in September 2009, they already had managed the business for more than a year.

The slow transition allowed Paul, 53, and Debbie, 56, the chance to grow accustomed to their new responsibilities.

Still, Debbie said taking full control of the restaurant was a “big adjustment.”

An “eye-opener,” Paul added. Whether paying bills, buying groceries or ordering stock, “it was up to you to get it done,” Paul said.

But the Puccis put in many hours to make their long-held ambition of owning the business a reality.

THE RANDVILLE BAR & GRILL is on M-95 about 12 miles north of Iron Mountain, just before the turn for M-69 east. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

While Paul worked 17 years at Specialty Minerals Inc. in Quinnesec, he grew up in small businesses. Paul’s parents owned a grocery store on Breen Avenue in East Kingsford named Pucci’s One-Stop Grocery. They later bought into the Shakey’s Pizza franchise, with a location on North Stephenson in Iron Mountain. Paul started working at the restaurant while in grade school, stocking shelves, washing dishes and busing tables.

Originally from Baraga, Debbie lived and worked on a dairy farm. She moved to the area in the early ’80s, working in the receiving department of Rocconi Ace Hardware for a decade. Before that, she managed Greenleaf’s Bar for seven years.

Paul and Debbie frequented the Randville Tavern and knew then-owner Dorothy Saler. They often told Saler if she ever planned to sell the business, they would be interested in buying.

“A pipe dream,” Paul joked, until Saler surprised the Puccis with an offer.

They are the latest in a long line of owners in the bar’s history. The business has existed in some form since the early 1900s, though “there’s nothing left of the old building at all,” Debbie said.

Nothing except the 18-foot antique wooden bar and the taxidermy menagerie mounted on the walls.

The bar — made of quartersawn oak and adorned with brass fixtures — was built in the late 1800s by a Chicago-based company named Minwegen and Weiss, the Puccis said.

The collection of deer, fish, birds and other creatures hanging on the walls is largely inherited, passed from owner to owner down the years. Some of the taxidermy is original to the Puccis, like the wolf posed in slinking form above the north wall. Debbie shot the wolf during a hunt in 2013.

It has been almost 10 years since the Puccis bought the bar. Paul cooks, cleans, handles equipment and building maintenance and orders stock. The restaurant specializes in burgers, sandwiches and soups, he said.

Debbie cooks, cleans, tends bar, waitresses and manages the books. The two often work opposite shifts to maintain the business.

“Hands-on, top to bottom,” Debbie said, adding, “It can be a little trying.”

But the work is gratifying, the Puccis said. What was once a notion is now an accomplishment.

“Offering a service, making people happy,” Debbie said. “Good food, good drink.”

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