Local Hero Profile: Bueno Y Sano

Local Hero Profile by Monica Guzik, Local Hero Intern
Published in CISA’s August 2021 enewsletter

When looking over the locally renowned Tuesday Market in Northampton, the founder and owner of Bueno Y Sano, Bob Lowry, reflects on the beauty of the local food movement here in the Pioneer Valley.  Beyond the vibrant spreads of fruits and vegetables, he sees the movement as an “incredible beehive of entrepreneurship” that brings empowerment and meaning to our communities. This type of empowerment, meaning, and community nourishment is exactly what Lowry has been able to cultivate in his own business.

The idea that grew into Bueno Y Sano began with a late-night burrito on Nantucket, a restaurant for sale in Amherst, and Lowry’s desire to be the kind of boss where people are positively reinforced and encouraged. As a UMass alum, he knew the attraction for food that downtown Amherst possessed. The pieces began to fall into place when he was reminded of that burrito on Nantucket and thought “I can do this”. After a little research and outreach, it was clear that burritos would do exceptionally well in the college town – and did they ever!  Within months, Bueno Y Sano transformed from a business plan on paper to a full-on brick and mortar restaurant, which has become a Fresh Mex gem in the Valley.

Since the first location opened in Amherst at the beginning of 1995, the company has expanded to five other locations across Massachusetts and one location in South Burlington, Vermont. Apart from establishing roots across locations, Bueno Y Sano has been able to develop roots that go much deeper. In the decades of operation, Bueno has remained a family business that now has employees who span generations. Alongside Lowry’s family, a family from El Salvador have been the primary people managing, staffing, and operating the company. One of the first employees was Florentina — she and her son, Rolando, are now part-owners of the company with Lowry. Bob reflects on this and how his family and the families of his employees have literally grown together over the years. Together they celebrate their children’s birthdays and other milestones, which has brought a whole new level of meaning and empowerment into the company and their lives.

The growth of Bueno Y Sano has been far-reaching in so many ways but especially in our communities. They are active in a variety of initiatives that range from support of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County to the purchasing of locally grown and made products. Lowry emphasizes the practicality of buying some of their staple ingredients locally when available. The simplicity and authenticity of their menu allows local ingredients like jalapeños, chili peppers, tomatoes, and kimchi from Hosta Hill to take center stage. They even take some production into their own hands by now producing house-made seitan.

The mental and physical nourishment of each other and the community is something that has long resonated within Bueno Y Sano, and you can feel it when you step inside. The atmosphere is always warm, welcoming, and easy, with a menu that can appease anyone’s tastebuds. In honor of Eat Local month, stop by one of Bueno Y Sano’s Local Hero locations in Amherst, Northampton, South Deerfield, or West Springfield to get your taste of Fresh Mex food with a local flair or order online at Bueno Y Sano | Fresh Mex Restaurant | Burritos.  You can also find Bueno Y Sano at the Transperformance Live Tribute Music Fundraiser at the Pines Theater in Look Park on August 17, 2021.

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