Bern’s Steak House restaurant Tampa salad
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation Restaurants Closed Permanently Because of 2019 Novel Coronavirus

If you were looking forward to the day during which you can patronize one of the 97 restaurants under the Sweet Tomatoes or Souplantation brand names, that day apparently will never arrive, as the chain of dining establishments has permanently closed due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic after being in business for approximately 42 years.

Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation Restaurants Closed Permanently Because of 2019 Novel Coronavirus

This announcement appeared at the official Internet web site of the company:

To our valued guests,

As you may have heard, we are unable to re-open our 97 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The outpouring of love on social media has been overwhelmintg and we are so grateful to all of the sweet memories you have shared with us. We would like to thank our 4,400 team members for their dedication and love they have shown to our local communities. We will miss you tremendously and wish you all the best.

For gift card inquiries, refund options are limited at this time. You may be able to dispute the purchase with your bank or credit card company. Otherwise, there may be an alternative option available through the court in the future.

The permanent closure of Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation — which offered fresh salads, fruits, vegetables, soups, pasta dishes, and baked goods via a salad bar and buffet from which customers may serve themselves as much food as they liked — is an example of one of the 8 reasons why you should be careful about buying gift cards right now.


Because of the nature of food presented buffet style — which is considered to be conducive to spreading the 2019 Novel Coronavirus because patrons handle everything when serving themselves — dining establishments have had to either re-invent the concept of all you can eat by having waitstaff provide the food; or they simply either eliminated that option or closed their dining establishments entirely.

I have dined at Sweet Tomatoes restaurants on occasion, as I liked their food and salad bar concept. I will miss having this dining option available in the future. One was even able to sign up for the Club Veg membership program to receive weekly e-mail messages with discount coupons for a more affordable experience.

The closure of buffet and salad bar restaurants such as Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation causes me to wonder how complimentary breakfast will be handled at hotel and resort properties where guests serve themselves.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. My family for years used to go to Sweet Tomatoes till they closed the one in our area. Very sorry to hear that they are gone forever. I hate it when good companies go under. Just hate it. Not just because I will miss the product/service but because of all the employees who lost their jobs.

  2. A lot of hotels will stop free breakfast, others will offer prepackaged food only. No more waffle maker, hot buffets, etc. Instead pastries in plastic packaging, boxed cereal and individual milk cartons, packaged yogurt, etc.

  3. Another way to look at this from a California point of view is the cost of labor. The majority of their locations are/were in California – which has had numerous hikes to the minimum wage over the past several years.

    On my trips into their locations, I noticed that at peak times – the amount of labor had thinned – to the point in the dining room only two attendants to clear tables and plates. The location I patronized the most often had a rather large seating area.

    In Los Angeles County on July 1, 2020, another minimum wage to $15.00 an hour will fall into place – and lol if anybody thinks that either the city of Los Angeles, city of Santa Monica and/or the County of Los Angeles is going to delay it – unions will cry and pee in their pants if it’s delayed/postponed.

    At least for the foreseeable future when sit-down dining resumes – the model that Souplantation uses would require servers at stations along both the salad bar, pasta, bread and soup lines – plus another person who is pouring beverages.

    Let alone, you couldn’t leave plates, bowls and tableware out for the taking – they would need to be handed to each customer.

    Unless Souplantation were to raise it’s prices over $20 a person – the economics are not there. If they felt the restrictions would/could be lifted in the next three months or so – maybe, but the economics at least in California were not in their favor under normal circumstances.

    Frankly, I’m surprised that Apollo Capital did not shut the chain down earlier – unless they were in talks either with a potential buyer and/or negotiating with others for sub-lease of their sites.

    As far as the gift cards – when I heard that Apollo purchased Souplantation, I stopped purchasing their gift cards – even with the deals they would have around Black Friday and occasionally throughout the year – I thought they could pull the plug at anytime – separate of corona virus, and the gift cards would be worthless.

    The coupons through ClubVeg were usually a good deal, especially when they ran 30% off – soup, salad, pasta, desert, beverage and tax for under $10.00 was good deal to me.

    Apollo will probably try to monetize some of the recipe’s. I for one am going to miss their Cream of Mushroom soup – served only on Mondays!…lol

    Goodbye Souplanation and whatever they call it outside of California.

    The next shoe to drop are the other buffet’s, such as Hometown/Old Country Buffet, Golden Corral and all the many independent asian-themed buffet’s – they all face the same challenge – at least in California – rising minimum wage and the new requirements as to how guests must be served from a buffet – how are any of these places going to be able to afford the labor?

    Some will probably try to offer “quick service” to go – but who wants that when the point of the all-you-can-keep-down buffet was to go pick and choose how much/how little you wanted, when you wanted it. Another mass clearing of jobs coming to a city near you!


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