Whether it's from the economy, the courts or the government, America's family-run small businesses are taking it on the chin these days. Once a mainstay of society, they're slowly (quickly, in some places) disappearing right when the stability and jobs they provide are most needed.
There are shows out there to fix hair salons, nail salons, restaurants and bars, and now New Jersey baker Buddy Valastro of TLC's hit "Cake Boss" has taken up the challenge of saving 12 family bakeries in Texas, Florida and Massachusetts.
Premiering Monday, Dec. 2 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on TLC, "Bakery Boss" sends Valastro to struggling neighborhood pastry shops on the verge of collapse.
Asked why he would want to take on another TV show -- in addition to running his own family business, Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, N.J. -- Valastro tells Zap2it, "I'm helping people out. I'm giving back; I'm doing the right thing. I'm not going to say that it's good for my wife or my schedule, but I do it because I care. I do it for the fans.
"You know what, at the end of the day, the bakery business has been so good to me and my family all these years, I feel like it's my way of giving back. So it's really heartfelt and touching to me to be able to go in these bakeries.
"Everything I film, it shows what my passion's about; the show really shows me being me. If you watch it, there's a lot of heart. You'll understand."
For the first episode, though, Valastro sticks a little closer to home. In "Violet's Bake Shop," a Hungarian-themed business in the New York borough of Queens desperately needs an update, but the owner resists allowing her son to make any changes.
At one point, Valastro forces her to watch as her red velvet cake loses more than once in a taste test with a one from a supermarket.
"Some people," Valastro says, "you have to show them why it works. 'I'm going to bring your cake and let people taste it and tell you why it sucked, and maybe you'll believe them, if you don't believe me.'"
Because, after all, if everything was hunky-dory at a bake shop, the owners wouldn't be calling in Buddy Valastro.
"People are set in their ways," Valastro says, "and they're not willing to change. It's part of why they're calling me, because if they were doing fine, I wouldn't be there.
"That's always my answer, 'You called me. I didn't come here because i wanted to. I came here because you needed help.'"
And sometimes, it's not the baked goods that need the help, it's the family making them.
"Some of problems were family issues," says Valastro. "People just couldn't get along in a family dynamic. I was more like Dr. Phil than Buddy the Baker."
Photo/Video credit: TLC