Souplantation Saga Continues As San Diego Reboot Seems Less Likely

November 18, 2022

There has been an update in the ongoing saga surrounding the return of a former San Diego Souplantation restaurant and the outlook is appearing more and more bleak for the buffet chain's local reboot.  

In May 2020, we at SanDiegoVille broke the news to the world that all Souplantation restaurants (and sister concept Sweet Tomatoes) had laid off more than 5,000 employees across the country and would not be reopening any locations due to uncertainty for the buffet restaurant sector in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Souplantation executives later confirmed our report was true after multiple outlets picked up the story. There were at least eleven Souplantation locations in San Diego County when the company abruptly ended its run in 2020.

Earlier this year, we broke the news that La Mesa resident Dmitry Braverman had leased the former Souplantation location on Fletcher Parkway in La Mesa with plans to revive the concept using previously-released and copycat recipes, as well as having the assistance of some former Souplantation staffers. He originally planned to reopen on July 4 of this year, but was delayed citing an inability to pass fire inspections. Braverman later confirmed he hit another snag and was unable to get the rights to use the Souplantation name. The latest announcement posted yesterday to the company's Instagram page explained that they are no longer reopening the Souplantation reboot in the La Mesa space. 

"Update. We still working on the project," read a post by manager Hannah Romita on the Souplantation.SD Instagram page. "We had to move from Fletcher Parkway as we failed to open with the adult daycare health center Golden Life. We separated from La Mesa. Just a reminder that we still working on the opening of the restaurant-buffet that has the same concept as the previous Souplantation under the name Souplantation.SD. We are expecting to open summertime 2023 in different location."

Braverman was in the process of opening Golden Life Adult Day Health Care as part of the La Mesa property and thought that resuscitating the Souplantation brand on the property would be beneficial to his clients and the community. His plans were to use the space to operate an adult day care during the morning with the restaurant holding special hours for the clientele of Golden Life until 2pm, then opening to the general public starting at 3pm. Unfortunately, the city required too many upgrades to install a kitchen at the La Mesa, so the space will solely be used for the adult day care. 

Since the 2020 closure of all Souplantation restaurants, Winter Park, FL-based company Punch Card Mgmt LP acquired the rights to the Souplantation name, so Braverman was hoping to negotiate rights to a license for its use. Earlier this year, he confirmed he did not come to an agreement and therefore would not be able to call his onsite restaurant by the Souplantation name, thus he removed the sign and other branding. His solution was to call the restaurant "Souplantation.SD." 

Founded in San Diego over four decades ago, the first Souplantation restaurant was opened by founder Dennis Jay in 1978 on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego. After growing to two locations with the help of friends, Jay sold the pair of buffett-style eateries to Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp in 1983. The eatery grew to over 130 locations over the years, with all those located outside of California named Sweet Tomatoes. In 2016, the company filed for bankruptcy and shuttered dozens of outposts, but 97 locations remained until 2020 when the company folded.

Will the Souplantation revival restaurant ever come to fruition? Only time will tell. For more information, follow the concept on Facebook & Instagram.