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Buona, The Original Italian Beef, celebrates 35 years of serving up its famous beef to all of Chicagoland on January 21.
Joe Buonavolanto, Sr. opened the first Buona restaurant in 1981 in Berwyn, Illinois, bringing Italian beef to the suburbs. Buonavolanto was among a group of Italian immigrants who made the now-famous sandwich a staple of Chicago's culinary scene. Depression-era stockyard workers who were looking for ways to make food go farther introduced Italian beef to the city. The sandwich, which typically uses lean and tougher cuts of meat that has been cooked for several hours, was often served at weddings and banquets. The meat was sliced thinly and served on bread with gravy to ensure that every guest was well fed.
Buonavolanto Sr., who mortgaged his family home in Berwyn, Illinois, to finance his business, currently has five of his children and nine of his grandchildren involved in the business.
"My family and I are so excited to be celebrating the 35th anniversary of our business," Buonavolanto Jr. says "We are very proud to carry on our father's legacy, and look forward to the next 35 years and beyond."
With ever-changing trends in the food and restaurant industry, Buona has stayed true to its roots and has carefully safeguarded its recipe and the traditions of Italian beef making. Buona's process uses no preservatives, no chemicals, or additives and takes absolutely no shortcuts.
Throughout its history, Buona restaurants have been actively involved in the communities in which they are located. The company has raised more than $200,000 by hosting nearly 200 local fundraisers a year for the past 17 years, and provided more than 5,000 lunches to over 200 local schools since 2004. The restaurant group is also strong supporters of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and other charities. Buona is the Official Italian Beef of the Chicago Wolves and the DePaul Blue Demons.
With 16 locations currently located throughout Chicagoland and a new store opening in the Beverly neighborhood this spring, the family-owned restaurant group plans to open 25–30 more locations nationally within the next five years.