Faces in the Crowd: Shari Buccilli

January 31, 2019

By Gene Bodnar
Correspondent

It was indeed a pleasure to meet and interview Shari Buccilli, the co-owner (along with her husband Marc) of Buccilli’s Pizza located at 1541 N. McEwan Street in Clare.  She is so heavily involved in the community that I am honored that she took the time to agree to an interview.

Shari was born in Mt. Pleasant in 1967.  The family lived in Clare, so she attended the Clare Public School system from elementary school through high school, graduating in 1985.  During her school years, she was a member of the National Honor Society.  She also played clarinet in the band, was a member of the Public Affairs Club as well as the Color Guard.  She also spent three years as the Boys Track Manager for the school.

While she attended high school and for two years after graduation, she worked for the House of Flavors Restaurant in Clare, which was best known for its wide array of quality ice cream.  No longer open in Clare, the restaurant is still open in Ludington and Manistee and claims to serve 25 million gallons of ice cream each year.

In 1987, Shari married Marc Buccilli in the Clare United Methodist Church.  They had known each other for a long while because they attended school together.

Shari Buccilli

Shari Buccilli

Marc joined the Air Force and was stationed at Pease Airforce Base in New Hampshire, where he was a member of the Security Police.  He was soon transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, where he spent two additional years.  In 1991, they moved back to the Clare area, living with Marc’s mother in Farwell.  In 1993, they found their own home in Farwell.

Shari and Marc have three children:  Matthew, 28, has an MBA in Biology from Central Michigan University; Nina, 22, has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Central Michigan University; and   Lucas, 21, is attending Michigan Tech for a degree in Computer Science.

In 1973, Marc’s mother opened Buccilli’s Pizza in Clare.  In 1995, Marc’s mother asked Shari to work at the restaurant, and the rest is history in the making.

Shari and Marc bought Buccilli’s Pizza in Clare in 2008 from Marc’s mother.  The Buccilli Family has been in the pizza business ever since the early 1950s in the Metropolitan Detroit area; thus, they are one of the pioneers in the pizza industry.  (You probably remember singing along with Dean Martin – “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie …)  Three brothers (Melio, Angelo, and Pasquali) opened pizzerias In Madison Heights, Hazel Park, and Clawson.  The popularity of their pizzas grew by leaps and bounds, with several more locations added.  In 1972, the first pizzeria under the Buccilli’s Pizza name opened in Harrison and continued until the owner retired in 1981.  Of course, the second and third generation of the Buccilli Family keeps the pizza tradition alive, serving throughout northern Michigan.  Not far from Clare, Buccilli’s Pizza has two other locations — Farwell and Houghton Lake – and soon another location will be opening in West Branch.  Every year for many years, Buccilli’s Pizza in Clare has been declared the Best of the Best in the area.  Shari estimates that her restaurant makes over 100,000 pizzas every year.  On their 45th anniversary, Buccilli’s Pizza was presented with the Key to the City by the Mayor.

What’s the secret to their great pizzas?  They use the family recipe of spices only vine-ripened tomatoes, dough that is made fresh every day, and 100% real cheeses to blend their own pizza cheese.

A look at the Buccilli’s Pizza menu reveals that it is much more than a pizzeria.  Not only does it serve a wide variety of pizzas for every taste but it also serves pasta meals (spaghetti and lasagna), a variety of appetizers (cheese stix, rolls, garlic bread, and pretzel bites), soups and salads, submarine sandwiches, calzones, and beverages.  There’s even a kid’s menu along with lunch and evening buffets, plus a senior buffet on Tuesdays.

Is your mouth watering yet?

I asked Shari if she had an amusing or strange experiences while operating Buccilli’s pizza.  Once, a woman called to inform Shari that her ordered pizza was received, but one piece was missing.  Nobody at Buccili’s admitted to swiping a piece, so they gave the lady credit on her next order.  A short while later, the customer called back and said she had set the pizza on her kitchen counter and went back to her car to unload groceries.  Meanwhile, unknown to her, her husband entered the home through a side door right into the kitchen, took a piece of pizza, entered the bathroom and was still sitting there eating it while she was on the phone.  So the credit was removed.

In another incident, a lady called to say the pizza was made wrong.  She said she ordered pepperoni, ham, and mushrooms on one half of the pizza, and then pepperoni, ham, sausage, and bacon on the other half.  Shari asked what toppings she saw on the pizza.  It was then that Shari realized that she was looking at the pizza backwards.  Shari asked her to turn the box around and see if she had the right order.  The customer then realized she had the right order and started laughing because she realize that she had the right pizza after all.

When Shari’s son was around 7 or 8 years old, he made a bet with her manager about a person’s last name.  If her son lost the bet, he would owe the manager 10 billion pennies.  Of course, the child had no concept of how much that was.  The bet was made, and he lost.  To Shari’s knowledge the bet has never been paid.

Shari is heavily involved in the community.  She is a Trustee on the Farwell Area School Board, which sets policies and chooses its superintendents.  She is also a member of the Downtown Development Authority in Clare.  She is also the Vice-President of the Clare Chamber of Commerce.  In addition, she’s a member of the Farwell Sports Boosters and the Farwell Band Boosters.  In addition, she is a member of the Farwell Scholarship Committee.  As a member of the Clare County Community Foundation, she has a part in selections made in the Scholarship Committee.  Finally, she’s a member of the committee that informs the Isabella Bank, Northern Division, on community activities.  She also helps with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters auction that is held in March.

Shari loves many different forms of entertainment when she has free time.  She loves to travel, along with her husband and friends, having already been to Aruba, Mexico, and Ireland.  Her next vacation will be spent touring Hawaii.

She also loves to watch old black-and-white movies.  Her favorite is “My Man Godfrey,” starring William Powell and Carole Lombard.

Her “favorite child” is Vito, her English springer spaniel that she loves dearly.  Shari says she has “pimped him out” on a few occasions, granting him many descendants.

Shari also loves to read, especially biographies, history, and romance.  She recently finished reading “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter” by Hazel Gaynor and loved it.

Shari is also an avid gardener in her little flower garden.

Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  Shari not only owns one of the best restaurants in Clare but also participates immensely to the welfare of the community with all of her numerous volunteer activities.  She is one of the members of this great community who creates those ripples and makes a positive impact on the community as a whole.

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