The Buona Companies, owner and operators of the famous Chicago Family-Owned restaurant group, recently announced that their Plant-Based Italian “Beef” will be a permanent addition to their franchise menu. It will also become available in select retail locations this winter. Customers were first able to try Buona’s Plant-Based Italian “Beef” in April of 2021 as part of the Plant-Based Italian Beefless Sandwich, a vegan alternative to their Original Italian Beef. This sandwich was originally meant to be a limited time offering, but based on the overwhelming positive response – Buona has decided to keep the sandwich on their menu and include it at Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme and Jewel-Osco Grocery Stores starting in November 2021.
“Our plan was to see if people loved the Plant-Based Italian “Beef”as much as we did – and the good news is that they loved it even more than we could have imagined,” shares Candice Jordan, director of marketing with Buona. “ the outstanding support of the vegan community really helped make this a permanent menu item. It has become one of our most popular menu items and that is really great to see.”
The Plant-Based Italian “Beef”is made of seitan, which is an all-natural protein known for its versatility and savory flavor profile. The seitan used by Buona is crafted by Chicago-based seitan maker Upton’s Naturals. One key benefit of seitan is its ability to take on additional flavor – and as Buona customers have tried the vegan beef they have continuously raved about how similar the flavor is to traditional Italian beef.
In addition to keeping the Plant-Based Italian “Beef”on the menu at all 26 locations across Illinois, Indiana, and Colorado – Buona will also be selling the vegan-alternative at their retail locations. The packaging will feel familiar for customers, mimicking the packaging of their Original Italian Beef. Each package of Plant-Based Italian “Beef”will be individually packaged away from any cross contaminants, be frozen at the peak of freshness, and come with vegan gravy included. When a customer is ready to make their “beef” at home, they can easily warm up the seitan in the oven, microwave, or on the stove top – and then use it just as they would the Original Italian Beef.
“Family is important to Buona – and this product has allowed us to extend the Buona experience to new customers who thought they’d never be able to experience our food due to dietary restrictions or preferences,” continues Jordan. “It has been wonderful to see families come together and enjoy a meal knowing that we have something for everyone. The vegan community has really welcomed us with open arms, giving us such positive feedback – and we couldn’t be more grateful. I’m confident this won’t be the last vegan offering we bring to market.”