New Restaurant Concept Opens Doors for Growth

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., known for its 118 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes fresh, all-you-care-to-eat buffet restaurants, will open their first quick-serve restaurant, Souplantation Express. The first restaurant of this new concept will open Monday, January 17 in Carlsbad, Calif.

The new restaurant model is designed to complement the chain’s 40 Souplantation and 78 Sweet Tomatoes full-scale restaurants. Contrary to the existing buffet style of guests self selecting their own meal from fresh salads, soups, pastas and baked goods, Souplantation Express customers will choose from over 30 ingredients to customize their salad.  As the customer points to their ingredient selection, a Souplantation Express employee will build the selections into the customer’s individualized, unique salad. The menu will also feature five house-made made-from-scratch soups, macaroni & cheese, garlic asiago focaccia breads and freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies.

The launch of the Souplantation Express concept will allow Garden Fresh to continue growing and increase their presence in the 15 states they currently have full-scale buffet-style restaurants. They will also look to expand their full scale restaurants in expanding markets.

“We are eager to see how our guests respond to the new Express concept,” said Garden Fresh CEO Michael Mack. “We’ll use what we learn from this first Souplantation Express to perfect the experience here and in other markets.  We are confident that this new Express-style format fits a need for our guests and health-minded consumers.  We plan to open four more Express restaurants within the next 12 months, as well as eight of our existing buffet-style restaurants.”

The new quick-serve Express design can accommodate spaces as small as 1,500 square feet—compared to the existing buffet-style Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes model that requires over 7,000 square foot restaurant space—and is designed for potential entry into a variety of venues.

“The Express design enables us to extend our Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes brands to spaces we previously couldn’t accommodate due to size,” said Garden Fresh Vice President of Business Development, Dan Anderson. “By launching Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes Express restaurants, we’ll be able to extend our brand of fresh, wholesome food to more people, while also fitting into our own guest’s busy lifestyles.”

The new Souplantation Express restaurant in Carlsbad, Calif., is located in Bressi Ranch Village Center at 2681 Gateway Road, Carlsbad. For more information please visit,, or

About Souplantation Express:

Souplantation Express features the great quality food you expect from Souplantation in a quick & convenient way. It is not the traditional all-you-care-to-eat buffet style but it still lets you create your own personalized salad from over 30 different ingredients or Souplantation signature tossed salads. Guests can pair any salad with one of five made-from-scratch soups or mac & cheese and complimentary garlic asiago focaccia to complete the meal. Great for to-go or dine-in!

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 now totals 118 salad buffet-style restaurants across the western, southern and eastern portions of the United States. Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes offers an exceptional, healthful dining experience with a daily selection of eight made-from-scratch soups and salads and hand-crafted muffins, pizza focaccia, breads and warm desserts. By combining high-quality, farm-fresh and scratch-made foods for a fixed price, the restaurants provide guests with the freedom to create their own unique 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



  1. I assume you did your market research here, but speaking personally, the big draw for me is the ability to go in and try a little of everything.

    In addition, the prospect of having a restaurant employee build a salad ingredient by ingredient at the patron’s direction sounds like a nightmare in the making. Is this really more space-efficient than the existing salad bar?

    I was more encouraged by the announcement that eight of the original style stores will be opening this year. That seems like a lot, at compared to what’s been announced on this blog in the last year or so. Any of them in Central FL by any chance???

  2. We need Souplantation Express in Orange County! You are one of my favorite restaurants and I like your healthy food. As a nutritionist, I see a lack of truly healthy fast food restaurants here. It would raise the health level of our residents in the county and I guarantee that you would get lots of customers!

  3. Hello,

    I took printout for last month coupon and went to Sweet Tomatoes at 1210 Kifer Road,Sunnyvale, CA 94086-5324, they bluntly rejected and said that this is not an franchise and we won’t honor those coupons and they change below amount.

    12/26/2010 12/28/2010 Sale SWEET TOMATOES #24 Q14(Dining and Entertainment) 24425130361560360011611

    IS that true ? this location is not an franchisee? How come this location didn’t accept this coupon?

    Thanks, Suresh

    1. None of our restaurants are franchises, we are a privately owned company. What was the coupon discount for and where did you get the coupon?

    2. This is a wild guess, but Sweet Tomatoes is a pairing of two common words, and the restaurant you visited perhaps was a completely independent place?

      I know where I am we have a place called Sweet Tomatoes. It’s a local, single proprietor pizzeria not at all affiliated with Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes.

      As further evidence that this might be the case – and I might be wrong about this – but aren’t all this companies restaurants in CA called Souplantation?

  4. Hi
    I’m really excited to see a sweet tomato opening here in port richey fla. Can you tell me how soon will this site open . I can’t wait it will do very well here been waiting a long time for one to open here
    thanks deb

    1. Port Richey Sweet Tomatoes is scheduled to opening in March 2011. We will post more information on our blog when the opening is near!

  5. Wish you were opening a new location here in Cypress, TX (N.W. Houston, TX).

    This area has been expanding tremendously fast for the past few years and still adding new stores and restaurants today.
    We would go to Sweet tomatoes more frequently if we had a restaurant closer by. We love it!

  6. I really didn’t like it at all. And really, it isn’t faster having the person make my salad. The free sides are pretty gross and the foccacia was overdone and dry.

    This would have been SO much better if you had a make-your-own salad bar and ditched the free sides, and beefed up the bread selection to your really good corn bread, whole wheat bread and even the pizza squares found at regular locations.

    And seriously, eating out of the big metal bowl they mix your salad up in was gross. I felt like a dog.

    Too bad, because this could be a really good place with some tweaks.

  7. Wish you could open up a location closer… When I lived on the west coast I frequented your locations weekly. Please, please consider bringing a location to Burlington or even Greensboro, NC. We love eating healthy too. My job brought me here and both my family and the guys at the job would eat there also. Hurry! We are waiting for your arrival. Thanks!

  8. VERY disappointed. Minimal selection, no desserts, just a few soups, only one type of bread, they don’t accept coupons, the price is the same as the regular Souplantations where you can have as much as you want, can make it yourself, and most of all, can have a much more adequate selection for your money. It’s very difficult to explain how much you want of the few things they do have – it’s so much easier to just choose it yourself – my idea of “a little” and the server’s idea of “a little” – big difference – and once they dump it in the bowl – it’s way too late. The price should be proportionate with the selection – it’s way too expensive for the offering. The servers were nice – so no complaints there. I think this concept does NOT work for this brand – it’s not really a “plantation” – it’s more like “patch”.

    1. The soup selection is the exact same as the regular restaurants. The salad can be as big or as little as you want, good idea for them is to maybe charge by the ounces rather than one set price, but also I noticed there’s a lot more topping choice for your salad at the express than at the regular restaurant. As far as the difference of your version of a little and the server’s, well I’m sure since it’s new they have to work out starting out with a little bit, then if the guest would like more they can ask for a bit more. Just give it some time, I believe it will go well for Souplantation, I hope you can have a more enjoyable experience there in the future if you ever decide to go again. (:

  9. Can you tell me if there will be a Sweet Tomato in the Miami area any time soon? I frequent your locations in the Ft Lauderdale area, but they are a long drive from Miami..

  10. Hi Tracy,
    Glad to see Garden Fresh moved ahead with this concept. It sounds like you took to heart what our Kitchen Cabinet had to say and I will try the new Express location as soon as I can. 🙂

  11. Im not sure the “express” is such a good idea. I live out here in the San Diego area and Im super picky about how I build my salad. I like to put alot romaine lettuce on the bottom and a small bunch of the cesair salad on top (along with olives, red kidney, carrots, and sunflower seeds) but and when I get down to the egg, i preffer to only put on the egg whites and none of the yolk. And when I get my cup of Chili, I like to put a certain amount of cheese on top.
    Now if I went to the Express restaurant down in carlsbad and ordered my salad like this…. I will feel bad for the lady who has to make it for me the way I like it.

  12. I love this place and I happen to think the pricing is very reasonable. I will be a frequent customer! 🙂

  13. We visited this location a couple weeks ago for dinner. I thought it was ok, but too pricey for a one-time trip through. The regular restaurant isn’t much more and there is more selection there and you get the option of serving yourself and being able to go back for more if you want.
    I think the “Express” is a good idea, but it should be $2 less at least. It would be better too to mix the salad in the metal bowls, but then switch it to something nicer at the end of the line. The metal bowl feels cold and like I’m eating something at a school cafeteria.
    The employees were very nice and helpful. I’d like to go back, but would only do so with a coupon or other discount. It would be nice if the charges were based on the weight of the salad since my daughter and I don’t get nearly as much stuff on our salad as other people do. My dad used to work at office that had a “salad bar” by the ounce at his cafeteria.

  14. Could you open a Sweet Tomatoes in Albany,NY? I know NY is outside of your operating area but it would be great to have your restaurants here. I have been to your locations in Denver, Orlando and LA and just love them!!!

  15. SOUPPLANTATION EXPRESS This place rocks! I was hesitant to try for all of the above named reasons; i wanted to go back, not enough choice, etc. I was wrong! The selection was enough that everything I get on my salad was there so my salad ended end made exactly as i would make it. The salad I made was monstrous. Honestly, i had to eat it over 2 sittings. It is only 5.99 and its about 3 or 4 pounds of salad the way I had them make it for me. Everything is unlimited except for the lettuce. I also added the soup for 2 dollars which made the meal huge. I ve been back about 4 times. Just on here looking for coupons….as I am a cheapie.

    1. Sarah,
      we are so glad you tried us out! We do send out coupons for Souplantation Express via Club Veg Express. You can sign up directly at and you will receive emails periodically with coupons to Souplantation Express. We are so glad that you tried us out and enjoyed your meal. We hope to see you again very soon!

  16. Why do all the coupons say not valid on tx? I am moving there and I love the place but I want to save a little money. Will you ever accept your own coupons in tx?

  17. Pingback: Souplantation Express Moves into Bressi Ranch | La Costa Life | Blog
  18. Please please please come to Indianapolis! We love your salads and soups and other specialty items!!! We actually live in Fishers, IN which is just a little north of Indy and would love for you to come here — we are the fastest growing town in Indiana and are very health conscious!! Whenever we go on vacation to Sarasota, FL or San Francisco, we seek out your restaurant and ALWAYS go there (even if it is slightly out of the way!!). Please consider a location here — you will not be disappointed in your fans and sales!!

  19. This was a dream come true! I love your Soupantion Express! We take your delicious salad home at least three to four nights a week. I know I’ve lost weight and it’s so nice you post the calories on the soup so I make better choices. I live just ten minutes away and it’s worth the drive, even with the higher gas prices. I get one salad and it’s enough to satisfy my husband and I both and add soup and it’s under ten dollars! I can’t shop at the grocery store for a salad with all the goodies for less than twenty. Now I just need you to come up with a coupon for people like us who eat there so often. THANKS!

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