Sweet Tomatoes, also known at Soup Plantation in other parts of the U.S., is closing all of its restaurants permanently, according to the San Diego Tribune.
The self-service eatery will close all 97 restaurants it announced Thursday.
San Diego based Garden Fresh Restaurants, which owns Sweet Tomatoes, has been trying to salvage its operations but the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on the buffet-style eatery as the FDA put out recommendations to discontinue this style of serving.
“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” said John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh, said to the San Diego Tribune. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it.
During the time when restaurants were forced to closed dining rooms and turn to take out and delivery, that did not bode well for Sweet Tomatoes model of all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar, along with self-serve pizza, baked goods, baked potato bar, soft-serve ice cream and beverage station.
Sweet Tomatoes opened its first store in Florida in 1990 in Palm Harbor.