Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants specialized in fresh salads and soups, offering a large salad bar with ingredients to build your own plate of salad, homestyle soup options, and pasta, as well as bread, muffins, cornbread, and pizza, baked on the premises.

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 Springfield Wagon Works, a pioneer in salad bars in El Cajon. Dennis’s friends, John Turnbull and Scott King were opening their first Soup and Salad restaurant The Soup Exchange. Dennis was impressed with the new concept and introduced Steve Hohe, the Springfield Restaurant manager and Ron Demery, a bail bondsman and friend of John and Scott. Dennis, Steve and Ron decided to partner to create a parallel concept, the Souplantation. The two concepts grew side by side in a friendly, mutually supportive, yet competitive environment for several years. This restaurant and a second one in Point Loma were purchased in 1983 by Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp, founded by Michael Mack to operate the chain.

The company expanded across the American West and Southwest, and also opened locations in several Southeast states, including 23 restaurants in Florida. All of the restaurants were company-owned.

In March 2020, all of the restaurants had to close temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7, 2020, the company announced it would be closing all Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes locations permanently amid concerns that new federal guidelines recommending an end to self-serve stations would prevent local health departments from granting permits to restaurants with salad bars and buffets.

Garden Fresh Restaurants, the parent company to both Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court the following week on May 14. At the time of the announcement, the company had 4,400 employees and 97 restaurants.

Date of ClosureMay 8, 2020
Years in Business42
Number of Employees4,400
Are you the business owner?No

Robert Pruitt, aka, “Papa” fought until there was no fight. He passed away on November 20, 2020 in South Bend, Indiana. He was quick witted and kind hearted, quick with a joke or a smile. His life was full of love and adventure, especially his later years with his 8 grandchildren, whom he cherished. He is loved and missed beyond measure.

Date of PassingNovember 20, 2020
Age at Time of Death80
Number of Family Members Affected13

Two days ago I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This was after almost 11 months of fighting Covid on the front lines.

Over these months, I have seen colleagues perish, patients become infected and leave us, families unable to be with their loved ones at the very end, battles over PPE, and so much more.

Along the way I’ve shared my thoughts and I’ve been a vocal critic of so much that we have all witnessed. Anti-maskers. Bungled federal government management of this pandemic. Science deniers.

And now, after all of it, all I can say is I am tired. My colleagues are tired. All of us in healthcare are exhausted. I wish that getting the vaccine was a sign of hope. Sadly, it is a reminder of how far we still have to go. Covid is spreading faster than ever. People are dying in greater numbers. Many are still refusing to follow the most basic protocols. And we didn’t even put together an effective plan to get these vaccines out. We are way behind where we need to be in getting shots in arms.

Over the holidays I even ended up getting hospitalized. (Non-covid related) During my time in hospital, I saw from the patient-side, the devastating impact this pandemic has had. Shortage of staff, no room to admit anyone, exhausted nurses and doctors.

So I write this today to urge everyone who might read it….we are not done. Not by a long shot. But we could be if everyone, and I mean everyone, would just follow the requested protocols, wear a mask, and respect one another. This could have all been over already. And those of us on the front lines are tired. We’re fed up. And we need more than signs and food deliveries. We need everyone to listen so that we too can be with our families and friends. And return to life as normal.

Field of WorkHealthcare

It was “just a sinus infection” they said at his dr appointment…

Two weeks later on March 25th, my father went into ICU, put on a ventilator and the battle began. My family became part of that 1%.

174 days of life was all we had left. We cherished the seconds, minutes, hours and days spent sharing our love with him.

On Monday September 14th our father left his broken body. COVID did not win! We did. We were loved by such an awesome father. He never gave up. For six months he proved to all of us that love wins in the end. We felt it and will always feel it. Please pray for peace and comfort for my family.

I want everyone one of you to know that your prayers, thoughts and virtual hugs were felt the whole time. We were never alone and either was my father. Thank you for that.

Date of PassingSeptember 14, 2020
Age at Time of Death72

Earlier this month we lost another great person to COVID-19.

Doug was best know for his kindness and gentle nature. He was like a second father to me growing up. I was best friends with his son Scott so I spent a great deal of my younger years in their home. As a kid I saw him as just “my friends dad”. Looking back, he was more than that. He always encouraged us to be good and was never too harsh when Scott and I get into a little mischief. The little lessons he taught me all added up to life lessons that helped make me into the person I am today.

He will be greatly missed not only by me, but the large loving family that he leaves behind.

Thank you Doug.

Date of PassingJanuary 8, 2021
Age at Time of Death83
Number of Family Members Affected55