Former Real Mex CEO Brings More than 25 Years of Restaurant Experience


SAN DIEGO—June 4, 2012—Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp, known for its Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes fresh, all-you-care-to eat restaurants, today announced the appointment of David Goronkin as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.


Goronkin brings more than 25 years of restaurant industry experience, most recently as Chief Executive Officer at Real Mex Restaurants, which owns and operates brands including Chevy’s Fresh Mex, El Torito, and Acapulco in more than a dozen states, as well as a food manufacturing and distribution company, with total annual sales of more than $300 million. Immediately prior to Real Mex, Goronkin was President and CEO of Bennigan’s Franchising Company. He has also held executive and senior management positions at Redstone American Grill, Famous Dave’s of America, and Buffet’s Inc., operator of the HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet chains. Goronkin received the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association’s Silver Plate Award in 2006, and has served on the Board of the National Restaurant Association and its educational foundation.


“The Board is very pleased that David Goronkin, a proven executive with a track record of success in the restaurant business, is joining Garden Fresh,” said Tom Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Garden Fresh and Managing Director of Sun Capital Partners, a private investment firm whose affiliate owns Garden Fresh. “David brings a wealth of diverse restaurant experience and we believe his outside perspective will be very valuable for Garden Fresh to meet current industry challenges and continue its growth.”


Since Garden Fresh was acquired by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners in 2005, the company has grown to 126 restaurants in 15 states.


“I am excited and honored to be joining the Garden Fresh team,” said Goronkin. “The Company has a strong, values-based culture, and Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes are two great brands that are well-positioned as more Americans seek out fresh, healthy dining options. I’m confident Garden Fresh can capture this opportunity and build on the Company’s past success.”


Goronkin succeeds Michael Mack, who founded the Company in 1983 after purchasing the first two Souplantation restaurants. Ken Keane, President, is also leaving the Company and will not be replaced.


“Both Ken and I have had a great relationship with the people at Garden Fresh and, for the past six years, with Sun Capital,” said Mack. “We leave knowing the Company is in good hands and has very bright prospects for the future under its new, experienced leadership and with the support of our great management team and dedicated employees.”


“The Board thanks Michael and Ken for their passion and service over more than 25 years, and we wish them the best in their future endeavors,” added Taylor.


About Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.

Celebrating over 30 years, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. is a leader in the restaurant industry, having established a unique and successful business model for casual dining that has grown since 1978. The company’s chain of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants offers an exceptional, healthful dining experience with a daily selection of made-from-scratch soups and salads and hand-crafted muffins, focaccia, breads and tasty desserts. By combining high-quality, farm-fresh and scratch-made foods for a fixed price, our restaurants provide guests with the freedom to create their own wholesome meals. Garden Fresh restaurant concepts are built around fresh prepared, great-tasting recipes with a salad bar full of seasonal vegetables and tossed salads prepared exhibition-style every 20 minutes. Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants are open daily for lunch and dinner and also for a special Sunday breakfast that features a variety of delicious morning favorites in addition to regular selections. For more information about Garden Fresh and its Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants visit or


For more information contact:

Tom Faust

Stanton Public Relations & Marketing



  1. So sorry to see Michael leave. A victim of his own success. He started something which more many families including mine is a tradition. I wish him luck.

  2. It is sad to see Mr. Michael Mack leaving. However, I do wish him happiness in his future. He has taught many to trust in their instincts and to live full heartedly. Michael, I am forever grateful that you shared so much of your own wisdom. -V. REED-

  3. What would it take to have a sweet tomatoes in my town of Rolla,MO. We have to travel a hundred miles just to get to a sweet tomatoes, which is in St. Louis,mo. This is a college town and people always are wanting a place for soup and salad unfortunately we don’t have any place like that in our town. I’ve been to several across the country because my work required me to travel, I really would like to see one in my home town, Please open one in Rplla,MO

  4. As weekly Saturday night regulars at the Sweet Tomatoes in Glenview, Illinois since it opened, we have been sorely disappointed in the past year with the soup rotation and the vegetarian soup rotation in particular. For example, this past Saturday the soups included 3 chowders (Clam, Chesapeake corn, and Potato Kale Chorizo), and 2 creamy broccoli soups (cheese and potato). Why have 5 creamy, similar soups on the same night? We have not seen Spicy Navajo Vegetable, Continental Lentil, Garden of Eatin’, Pinto Bean and Basil Barley, among many others, in over a year. Why not? Many people who eat at Sweet Tomatoes are looking for healthy, vegetarian food. You have limited our choices and replaced them with unhealthy bacon or sausage-laden salty garbage. We are looking for other options for Saturday night dinner. Please consider bringing back more variety in the soups and chilis and more frequent menu changes. One month of a bad menu is too long to endure.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Marcia – Thank you for your feedback. We hope you can find something amongst our salad bar options that you can enjoy!

      1. Thanks for nothing. Your reply is condescending and insulting. You did not respond to anything I wrote. You’ve just lost 2 loyal customers who have been regulars since it opened in Glenview.

        1. We are so sorry you feel that way, Marcia. We have passed your feedback regarding our soup offering to our Culinary Team for consideration and are always aiming to improve our offerings to meet our guests’ needs and desires. However, sometimes it is very difficult to fit everyone’s tastes on the bar. We hope you will reconsider seeing the variety of offerings our February menu has to offer!

  5. My husband and I were living in Oceanside California for the past 8 years. Last August he executed orders to report to Camp Lejeune located in Jacksonville NC. Sadly this city and surrounding areas have a serious lack of good and healthy food to choose from when dinning out.
    Souplantation has always been our family’s favorite place to eat fresh and healthy food!
    Please consider this area as future location. The city of Jacksonville NC is growing by leaps and bounds and in 2010 was name by Forbes Mag. number one growing city in America.
    Thank you for your consideration.
    Marlis Stanley
    I’m going to California soon and I cannot wait to have my fair portion of my favorite food

    1. Thanks for liking us enough to want one closer to you, Marlis! We know it’s still quite a trip, but you can always visit our Sweet Tomatoes locations in Raleigh or Cary, too! Look forward to seeing you back in CA!

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