Souplantation Closes For Good; Southern California-Based Buffet Chain Will Idle 4,400 Workers


It survived an E. Coli outbreak and bankruptcy, but Souplantation apparently can’t go on in a world where exposing food in a buffet line is considered hazardous to your health.

The San Diego-based chain announced today it is closing all of its locations permanently, effective immediately. The chain had 100 outlets across the country but started in Southern California and became a guilty favorite of artists, hipsters and immigrants for its all-you-can-eat selections of salad, soups and other delights.

The first Souplantation opened in 1978 in San Diego, started by a surfer, naturally. It is run by parent Garden Fresh Corp., and in one of those strange turns in life, its restaurants are called Sweet Tomatoes outside of Southern California. It had several popular locations, including one near the Beverly Center that has been in business more than 30 years.

The chain’s restaurants initially closed on March 10, saying it was temporarily shuttering as a public health gesture to help flatten the coronavirus curve, and promising to reopen soon. But the restaurant was not set up for takeout or delivery, so has generated zero revenue since that date.

CEO John Haywood said today that the financial pressures wrought by closing were too much to continue. The company declined to participate in the federal Paycheck Protection Program, as the money generated it claimed wouldn’t be enough to sustain operations. 4400 people will be out of work as a result.


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