The Buona Companies, owner and operators of the famous Chicago Family-Owned restaurant group, announced that it is releasing a new product specially for their vegetarian and vegan customers – a Plant-Based Italian Beefless Sandwich. This vegan friendly option will retail for $7.99 and will be available at all 24 Buona locations in Chicago and Indiana for a limited time beginning on April 26. From the bread to the “beefless” Seitan meat to the veggie-based gravy and giardiniera, every aspect of this sandwich is plant-based, vegan friendly, and prepared separately to ensure no cross contamination with non-vegan products. Chicago consistently ranks as one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the United States, and this new sandwich offering will allow Buona to cater to the ever-growing percentage of patrons opting for a plant- based diet.

Since the all natural beef is a core ingredient to the Original Buona Beef sandwich, the Buona family opted to collaborate with Chicago-based seitan maker Upton’s Naturals to craft the perfect plant based “beef” for the sandwich. Seitan is an all-natural protein that is known for its versatility, savory flavor profile, and ability to take on additional flavor, ensuring it would pair seamlessly with Buona’s authentic Italian recipe. As a nod to the already well-known Original Italian Beef Sandwich, Buona chose to make each Plant-Based Italian Beefless Sandwich with the same signature French bread and hot or mild giardiniera – both of which are already popular with Buona fans. The sandwich provides 43 grams of plant-based protein and is paired with an exclusive vegan- gravy, made from authentic Buona Italian spices, a vegetable-based broth and olive oil for added juiciness.

“While Buona is known for our Original Italian Beef, we wanted to expand our plant-based menu options to serve the growing number of vegans and vegetarians who join their families at our restaurants. We wanted something that felt true to our establishments, menu offering and family recipes, which is why we decided to use our signature dish as inspiration,” shares Candice Jordan, director of marketing with Buona. “We all felt Upton’s Naturals was the best fit as a partner. We wanted the sandwich to be all natural like our original Buona Beef and being local was the gravy on top. We’re excited to be one of the first multi- unit restaurants able to offer an authentic plant-based Italian ‘beefless’ sandwich.”

“When vegans go out to eat, they crave the same variety and savory meal options as anyone, just without the meat to go with it,” says Upton’s Naturals founder Dan Staackmann. “There’s so much opportunity to serve the community of people embracing a plant-based diet, which stretches far beyond having a vegan burger on the menu. The Buona Beef family understands that, and with our slices of seitan, we’re so happy to be able to support them bringing a 100% vegan take on the traditional Italian beef sandwich to Chicago.”

Industry News, Marketing & Promotions, Buona