SAN DIEGO (CBSLA) — Souplantation — the buffet-style restaurant with a large cult following of families, hipsters and frugal eaters — will reportedly close for good because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The chain, which is known as Sweet Tomatoes outside of the Los Angeles area, shut down in March along with all other eat-in restaurants. But with other reopening states explicitly not including buffets or salad bars, both of which are core to Souplantation’s model, the company said it did not see a way forward.
— Tina Patel (@tina_patel) May 8, 2020
The closure means 97 restaurants will be permanently shuttered, and more than 4,000 employees will lose their jobs.
Souplantation’s parent company, San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurants, told the Los Angeles Times they considered applying for a loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but with reopening their restaurants looking unlikely, they couldn’t take the money because it would be “disingenuous.”
Fans of Souplantation took to Twitter to mourn together.
No bigger heartbreak than hearing Souplantation is closed forever
— kells (@kellyynguyeen) May 7, 2020
Corona claiming Souplantation is my breaking point and villain origin story
— lane (@elenastanley_) May 7, 2020
Unlike many other restaurants, Souplantation had a lot of healthy options and fresh vegetables for people to choose from. It’s really sad to see the coronavirus take this place from us forever.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) May 7, 2020
I have no right to feel this emotionally distraught over the extinction of a restaurant chain called Souplantation but here I am
— Jenny Nicholson (@JennyENicholson) May 7, 2020
souplantation is closing forever and so is my heart
— jules 💒 (@oatfairy) May 7, 2020
Souplantation closing down is the worst news to drop to my mom this mothers day
— dumbfoundead (@dumbfoundead) May 7, 2020
today is a sad day for buffet-obsessed immigrant families 😢
i grew up at the one in torrance. this was the only non-asian restaurant my parents enjoyed. mostly because they had coupons all the time and a senior discount. pic.twitter.com/J99HDdbNHv
— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) May 7, 2020
souplantation has officially closed their doors forever, so I’ve made a lil something to pay my respects… pic.twitter.com/x0IAZksNGS
— Nichole (@NicNacsTV) May 7, 2020
Another buffet-style restaurant, Hometown Buffet, actually kept its Covina location open for takeout service. It’s not clear what will happen next for other buffet-focused restaurants, which are popular in the San Gabriel Valley.