Chicagoland's Buona Is Truly Buona
May is National Beef Month and Saturday, Buona Restaurant and Catering declared National Beef Day at Chicagoland’s 17 locations. Home of “The Original Italian Beef,” Buona offered their Italian beef, Italian sausage, and Italian beef and Italian sausage combos at half-off regular price.
Recapping this year’s event, Buona’s Director of Business Development, Dominic Fallara, said that the chain sold 60,000 beef and sausage sandwiches and combos – 10,000 more than last year’s event.
“We partnered with our suppliers to meet this year’s goal,” offered Fallara, discussing the noticeable increase in customer traffic in Buona’s 17 locations.
“There was a lot of excitement,” he shared.
Fallara credited this year’s numbers to a targeted media campaign that began in March with press releases and social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). On the day of the event, local radio pitched in to highlight some of the activities going on at locations throughout the city.
“We had games and our beef mascot made an appearance,” Fallara added.
The human-sized beef sandwich greeted customers, played games, and took orders at the counter, amusing children and adults alike.
Knowing Buona’s history as “The Original…,” it’s no surprise that this year’s event showed a 20% increase in sales. Next year’s goals are even higher, said Fallara. Being the best in Chicago, he said, goes straight back to the chain’s patriarch and founder, Joe Buonavolanto.
“He dug the foundation – literally,” said Fallara, who has also been with Buona since his days as Cashier at one of the restaurant locations.
In 1981, Buonavolanto took a second mortgage on his home to fund the business. The father of five young children created the family run operation, with an original all-natural, slow-cooked, Italian beef recipe concocted by his wife, Peggy, and his uncle ‘Junior,’ (also founder of Chicago’s Mr. Beef). Today, Buona uses the same process to make beef sandwiches – generation after generation of slow-cooked beef without fillers.
Second-generation owner and son of the founder, Don Buonavolanto, started National Beef Day last year, as a way to celebrate National Beef Month and the tradition of loyalty, integrity, and attention to detail customers expect from Buona. Thirty-five years of tradition is expanding, said Fallara; Buona opened three new locations this year and will open five more in Chicago by 2020. This year also marks a trial run making retail grocery products for Costco, and average sales at established locations are up 11%, says a recent article in the Chicago Tribune.
Fallara also boasts Buona as the Official Beef of the Chicago Cubs and the Original Italian Beef sandwich is served at both Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field – locations that make sampling a Chicago tradition handy for tourists.
Buona’s popularity doesn’t stop at Italian beef; the menu includes burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, Paninis, salads, soups, and pizza. Customers rate nearly everything on the menu high (4.5 of 5 on TripAdvisor and Yelp), with comments directed towards large portions, fresh salads, and “…very, very, very good pizza,” with “quick and cheap” delivery. Buona significa buona carne italiana e buon cibo! (“Buona means good Italian beef and good food!”)