||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (July 2010)|
|Headquarters||San Diego, California, USA|
|Parent||Garden Fresh Restaurant Corporation|
Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes are the names given to two United States chains of similar buffet style restaurants. The first Souplantation opened in San Diego, California in 1978 and the company is still headquartered there. The company was incorporated as Garden Fresh Corp. in 1983. The company went public in 1995 but was taken private in 2004. Original Souplantation locations were mostly in Southern California; the company then expanded to Florida and other areas under the name Sweet Tomatoes. The company is owned by Garden Fresh Restaurant Corporation.
The restaurants include an extensive salad bar, baked potato bar, several varieties of soup, pasta, bread, pizza, and muffins. There are also various fountain drinks, a fruit and dessert counter and ice cream machine. All restaurants operate on an all-you-can-eat basis. The company is certified as a "green" restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association, which said Garden Fresh is the only national chain in the country to have every one of its restaurants meet the association's criteria for minimizing their impact on the environment.
The first Souplantation restaurant opened on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego in 1978. It was the idea of Dennis Jay who was a bartender at the Bull & Bear in El Cajon. He had a dream and talked with two friends of his. One was an attorney and the other a bail bondsman. This restaurant and a second one were purchased in 1983 by Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., founded by Michael Mack to operate the chain.
The company has expanded across the west and southwest and has locations in several Southeast states including 28 restaurants in Florida. They also have stores in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah. All restaurants are company-owned.
In 2005, an affiliate of the private investment firm Sun Capital Partners purchased Garden Fresh and with it the restaurant chains. As of 2012[update] the company had 112 restaurants in 15 states and claims to have served "300 million guests since 1978." 
Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants specialize in fresh salads and soups, offering a large salad bar, homestyle soup, pasta, as well as bread, muffins and pizza, baked on the premises. They are open for lunch and dinner.
The salad bar includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, croutons and other salad condiments, as well as a few prepared featured salads, which change monthly. Other sections include up to eight soup selections, a small bakery offering muffins and pizza foccacia, a pasta section with a few different pasta and sauces and a dessert section offering fruit, puddings, and soft-serve ice cream. Featured menu items are rotated monthly often along a theme, while the standard offering remain unchanged. Themes, named according to the type of food being served, include Asian, Greek, Italian and Customer Favorites.
The company's home city of San Diego often serves a test market for trying new ideas and innovations, and is home to Souplantation's corporate offices. For example, some Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes locations are open Sunday mornings for breakfast. In 2011 the company launched its first quick-serve restaurant, called Souplantation Express, in Carlsbad, California..
In the news
- "Souplantation is putting stock in a piping hot future", Los Angeles Times, May 29, 1995
- "Garden Fresh completes move to private ownership", San Diego Union-Tribune, March 11, 2004
- "Company Overview of Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.". Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
- "Souplantation touts its green credentials", San Diego Union Tribune, September 14, 2011
- Company website (2008-11-10). "Soup Plantation". Our Company. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
- Soup Plantation map of locations (2008-11-10). map/ "Map". Our Company. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
- Company website (2008-11-10). "Soup Plantation". Our Company. Retrieved 2012-3-16.
- "Investors buy Sweet Tomatoes, Souplantation". South Florida Business Journal. 2005-10-21. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- "Souplantation Express celebrates 1 year", Souplantation blog, January 13, 2012
- "E. coli outbreak linked to OC restaurant", ABC Money, April 3, 2007
- "O.C. closes restaurant tied to E. coli cases", Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2007
- "Two More E. Coli Cases Reported In Orange County", San Diego 10 News, April 8, 2007