The cult buffet-salad-bar has finally reached the end of its bottomless soup.
The 42-year-old buffet-style chain Souplantation, also known as Sweet Tomatoes outside of California, has survived everything from an e-coli scare to bankruptcy but Covid-19 might just be the end of the road for them. On Thursday, it’s chief executive revealed that the company is planning to close all 97 locations with immediate effect. This will leave 4,400 employees, previously furloughed, out of a job.
Buffets have been an obvious casualty of the pandemic and have been strictly prohibited nationwide. For a dining chain that’s built entirely around the concept of self-service for large parties of people, it’s hard to fathom how they could continue under the circumstances.
With the FDA putting out accommodations to discontinue self-service operations—specifically salad bars—there’s a strong likelihood that the model won’t be allowed for a long time.
“We could’ve overcome any other obstacle, and we’ve worked for eight weeks to overcome these intermittent financial challenges, but it doesn’t work if we are not allowed to continue our model,” John Haywood, chief executive of Garden Fresh (the parent company) told The Times.
The devastating news trended on Twitter causing a wave of reactions. These varied from those sending tributes to a place where some profound life-changing moments happened while eating a huge helping of caesar salad, clam chowder, and a whole pizza, others bought up a slightly touchy subject of its portmanteau, and some openly admitted to buffet crimes.
Here are some of the Tweets:
if I would’ve known the last time I went to Souplantation would have been the last time I would ever be at a Souplantation I would’ve gotten an extra muffin pic.twitter.com/s6hiuGBSCN
Souplantation is closed forever. Coronavirus did this. The San Diego classic taught me how to steal. “Mom, bring the big purse,” I would say. And that purse would exit smelling of 10 tiny blueberry muffins. RIP, legend. 3PM, upper field, coronavirus. I’m gonna kick your ass.