Buona beef restaurant opens with a sandwich-cutting ceremony

  Flossmoor Deputy Police Chief Tod Kamleiter, Police
  Chief Michael Pulec, Mayor Paul Braun and Don
  Buonavolonto enjoy lunch at the new Buona
  restaurant.
(Photo by Carole Sharwarko/H-F 
  Chronicle)
 
There’s a new beef in town.
 
On Feb. 27, Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun cut a ribbon and a 4-foot Italian beef sandwich to officially open the new Buona Beef restaurant in the Meijer plaza at Vollmer and Pulaski roads. 
 
It’s the 22nd restaurant in the chain, which bills itself as “The Original Italian Beef.” Buona — pronounced bow-nah — also recently added fast-casual restaurant locations in Frankfort and Orland Park, as well.
 
Braun welcomed Buona to the village and said the business represents the values of Flossmoor, including a focus on family, hard work and integrity.
 
“I’ve never cut a beef sandwich at a ribbon cutting before,” the mayor quipped as he sliced the giardiniera-laden sandwich in half.
 
Afterward, invited community residents and village officials dined on beef sandwiches, salads and more. The restaurant offers sandwiches, panini, pastas and Neapolitan-style pizza, along with all-beef hot dogs, burgers, soups and salads. To wash it down, diners can choose from hand-mixed shakes and a selection of beer and wine, in addition to unsweetened teas and soft drinks.
 
Don Buonavolanto handles expansion for Buona and was on-hand at the event. He said the restaurant brings 75 jobs to Flossmoor, 40 percent of which are full-time. Many of the new employees are high school and college students.
 
“We try to give a couple of dollars over the minimum wage to attract the best talent and we also look to promote internally,” Buonavolanto said. “I feel the biggest part of our success is our family recipe and our employees. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to grow our company the way we have.”
 
The first Buona restaurant was founded in Berwyn in 1981 by Joe Buonavolanto Sr. and the late Peggy Buonavolanto. The company has since opened restaurants throughout the Chicago area and introduced frozen beef in grocery stores about a year-and-a-half ago, Buonavolanto said. 

Buona is also the official Italian beef of the Chicago Cubs, White Sox and Bears, and claims to be the only remaining 100 percent family-owned Italian beef chain.
 
According to Buonavolanto, the core recipe for Buona Italian beef came from his mom, Peggy. He said the difference in the recipe is that the gravy — what some Italian beef lovers call au jus — is made from the drippings of the cooked beef. This offers a richer flavor than making the gravy separately.
 
“The process is painstaking,” says the company’s press release, “and ardently adhered to by generation after generation of Buonavolantos.”
 
Buona processes its own beef at a facility in Bedford Park, Buonavolanto said, and it is free from additives and preservatives. 
 
Besides the beef, guests can choose from a wide variety of entrees, including selections to take home. The location also offers desserts. Buonavolanto said he still loves the classic  Italian beef sandwich, but he has made room for a few new favorites.
 
“I love the beef, but also our pizza and burgers,” he said. “It’s the perfect 1-2-3 punch, you know?”
 
On Feb. 28, Buona gave a free beef sandwich — made to order — to anyone who was in line at the restaurant before 10 a.m. 
 
At 11 a.m. on March 3, Homewood-Flossmoor High School athletes will compete in a beef sandwich-eating contest at the restaurant.  On March 7, the Homewood-Flossmoor Parents Association will benefit from sales at the restaurant. A copy of the flyer is required in order to participate in the fundraiser.


 

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