Bueno Y Sano, founded by a University of Massachusetts Amherst alumnus, Bob Lowry, is a family-owned chain restaurant that serves to "make people happy". Bueno Y Sano, translated from Spanish to English, literally means "good and healthy", which supports the Number Three United Nations Global Goal for Sustainable Development of "Good Health and Well-Being". Bueno Y Sano is known for their handcrafted burritos, use of fresh ingredients, emphasis on local procurement, and pride in having over 95% of their restaurants staffed and managed by an El Salvadorian family, many with long tenure.
Western New England University
Bueno Y Sano emerged after Bob noticed a “For Rent” sign in a popular pizzeria place one day while visiting Amherst Center, the location of his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A month prior to that day, he had enjoyed a burrito at a small restaurant on Nantucket Island. The idea of opening a burrito place was sparked in that moment after Bob realized that Amherst was missing one food ethnicity – Mexican. He had a “hunch” that this would be an amazing opportunity, so he conducted local research to support his idea. Bob said that he “knew he wanted to be the boss and in charge” and his research proved to be “conclusive that people were looking for burritos”.
Soon thereafter, Bob called the number on that “For Rent” sign, and subsequently started writing a business plan. With the financial help of his father and support from family, they invested and opened the first Bueno Y Sano on January 22, 1995. Bueno Y Sano soon became the popular location to get fresh burritos. Bob said that he “wanted to be that place where people would be like ‘if you’re going there, you’ve got to bring me a burrito home!’”. Bueno Y Sano is operated by Bob Lowry and his family, now with six locations around New England.
“I had intimate knowledge of the market, and I stumbled into it out of nowhere,” said Bob Lowry.
Bob stated that the company “exists to give people what they want”. Twenty-five years ago, there was a need to eat healthier, and so the business model came about when Bob realized it was time to create healthy and tasty food for people. Bob said, “We have a simple mission. From the beginning, our mission was to ‘make people happy’. It’s the simplest thing ever, and by providing nutritious food that they’re excited about.” Bob created a friendly-family oriented business, staffed with employees from El Salvador, who were also community-conscientious people. He aspired to live a healthy lifestyle then, and continues to do the same now, as he shares the “good” by delivering tasteful foods, while being mindful of keeping the planet safe. Bob also said, “It’s the right fit… for leadership… for me… I’m a real delegator… I’ve made tons of mistakes.” Bob is proud to stand by their mission, and glad his instinct about burritos is true to this day, especially in the Northeast.
Bueno Y Sano is a restaurant with a progressive impact on the community, local businesses, non-profits, and customers. Bueno Y Sano illustrates innovation by creating fresh food, empowering its employees, and creating a healthy world. Bob and his family, along with many of his employees, create fresh and honest recipes for all of their customers. Bob cares about the welfare of his employees, customers, community, and the planet. One supporting attribute is how well he treats his employees, which is simply that he treats them like family, even though many of them are not related to him. Some employees have been working for Bueno Y Sano for over ten years.
Bueno Y Sano gives back to the community by buying locally whenever possible, and supporting local businesses, as well as non-profit organization and groups, who contribute to the community as well. The company is particularly interested in supporting education, entrepreneurship, health, fitness, and the arts. Bueno Y Sano stays true to its customers by providing nourishing and delightful, honest foods. For Bueno Y Sano, customers come first, which means the company persists on bringing nothing but the best and freshest ingredients to the table. Bueno Y Sano also aims to be sustainable by reusing dinnerware and recycling. Bob makes every effort to continue to keep the planet safe by adopting sustainable energy sources.
Bueno Y Sano restaurants pride themselves on delivering their customers consistent and good quality restaurant experiences every time. They achieve this via two distinct business principles: using and purchasing good ingredients, and hiring their employees.
All Bueno Y Sano locations make almost everything from scratch and have experimented with local products. However, majority of their items are purchased from a single major supplier. This allows their products to be reliable and consistent for their customers.
From an employment perspective, originally the company employed local college kids, but that caused high turnover, so now the employees are first-generation El Salvador immigrants and their family members. In discussing his company, Bob described it as being “a really joyful-like, fun, product/place to be, if you have the right people around you; but we have the right people, and things function rather smoothly”. With this change in employment, Bueno Y Sano is now able to achieve an average employment tenure of 10 years, which in the restaurant business is commendable, when the National Restaurant Association quotes “the national average of turnover in restaurants is over 70%”. (http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/News/Hospitality-employee-turnover-rate-edged-higher-in, March 16, 2017)
“Specifically switching to solar is a pretty powerful decision,” said Bob Lowry. Once the local solar power area supply sights are operational, Bueno Y Sanyo plans to convert their restaurants to solar power. Already in place, are reusable dinnerware items and recycled brown paper bags for take-out meals. From a waste perspective, the company takes pride in the fact that they recycle all of their cardboard boxes, which is an additional expense to them, but “just one other little thing” that helps the environment. Also, according to Bob, “Most [Bueno Y Sano] restaurants have been retro-fit,” so when it comes to environmental benefits, their focus is “mostly about where we get our energy and using natural gas to cook on; that’s just the reality”.
From a social benefit perspective, Bob has taught for the past ten years, and continues to teach, a college course at UMass Amherst, called Introduction to Entrepreneurship. He is able to share his experience and leadership knowledge to about 100 to 200 students each semester. As an organization, Bueno Y Sano supports their local communities, as several family members are involved on the board of Big Brothers. In addition to that, Bob is also on the board for North-Star Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Sunderland, and supports this wonderful educational model for teens to help raise money for their organization.
Looking towards the future, Bob hopes for a “stable” world and envisions it to be “a safer place than 30+ years ago for any single person”, especially because “people are jumping to more sustainable energy sources”. He also shared that he’s glad to see that “changes are already happening”.
Bob Lowry, Founder
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Amherst, MA, US
Business Website: https://buenoysano.com/
Year Founded: 1995
Number of Employees: 51 to 200