The Buona Companies’ 26th restaurant in the Chicago area debuted Tuesday in Lakemoor with two new menu items and a few days of bragging rights for local patrons.
Until Monday, Buona Lakemoor will be the only location in the familiar chain where customers can order a Cheesy Beef or Saucy Beef. One is loaded with cheese. The other is topped with extra marinara.
The opening of Lakemoor’s newest restaurant is an important milestone for the village.
Besides two Woodman’s branded gas stations flanking the giant grocery store anchor, Buona is the first of several anticipated new businesses to open in the 74-acre Lakemoor Commons shopping center.
“Today was a very proud day for Lakemoor,” Mayor Todd Weihofen said.
A Starbucks is expected to open in about two weeks, followed by a Chipotle restaurant in about six weeks, with other businesses pending.
“There’s a lot more coming in there,” Weihofen said.
Tuesday’s soft opening preceded the official public opening Wednesday. At lunch hour, Buona’s was hopping with dozens of patrons inside and at the drive-through.
Menu items were half off during a ceremonial ribbon cutting from 5 to 8 p.m., with proceeds benefiting Nicasa Behavioral Health Services.
The initial interest is a good sign for Lakemoor Commons, which arose from a long-vacant farm field south and west of the heavily traveled corner of routes 12 and 120.
Contending development at the prime corner wouldn’t occur without an incentive, the village designated the area as a special financing district. That was challenged in court by some neighboring taxing bodies.
The suit was settled in 2020 after five years. The 244,171-square-foot Woodman’s grocery store opened in September 2019, but until Tuesday, it was the only open business.
Lakemoor is a new market for Buona, as the closest location is in Algonquin, and no others are north of Hoffman Estates and Arlington Heights.
The building has 4,300 square feet of dining space, a covered patio and a two-lane drive-through. Like other locations, the menu features the Chicago Original Italian Beef Sandwich, chargrilled burgers, fresh pastas, homemade pizzas and chicken sandwiches.
A stand-alone Rainbow Cone will be offered as a full-service extension of the patio area in summer.
“When we started Buona over 40 years ago, the focus was and continues to be to bring our family recipes to communities,” founding brother Don Buonavolanto said in the release.
Andrea McCarthy, a McHenry resident who has worked at Woodman’s since it opened, said new businesses nearby will expand options and provide jobs.
“We need more stuff on this corner,” she said, while waiting in line for lunch Tuesday. “You don’t have time or you don’t want to be driving everywhere.”
As part of the agreement with Woodman’s, Lakemoor will rebate a portion of the annual sales tax proceeds up to $6 million. That includes $4 million Woodman’s fronted for extending utilities to the site.