BRENTWOOD-Garden Fresh Restaurant, which is a chain of self-serve salad buffet restaurants including Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, announced on Thursday, May 7 that stores in Brentwood and all the other locations are permanently closed due to COVID-19.

“The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, John Haywood, the chief executive of Garden Fresh Restaurant, said buffet and salad bars are still prohibited, so the company is not allowed to continue its original business model. “We could’ve overcome any other obstacle, and we’ve worked for eight weeks to overcome these intermittent financial challenges, but it doesn’t work if we are not allowed to continue our model,” Haywood told the LA Times.

Garden Fresh Restaurant began in 1978 in San Diego and has 97 restaurants under the name of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes in 10 states. The vision of the company is to provide fresh and healthy food, so the customers have various food options from fresh salads, soup, pasta, freshly baked bread to fresh fruit and frozen yogurt. “Not only would this restaurant be a place to eat, but also a place where the farm meets the table and families gather for a healthy dining experience all its own.” The company shares its goals on the website.

“The outpouring of love on social media has been overwhelming and we are so grateful to all of the sweet memories you have shared with us.” After announcing the permanent closure of all the restaurants, the company posted a declaration on Facebook on Friday, May 8, and expressed its appreciation to customers for their support and the 4,400 team members for their dedication.

“My husband and I have enjoyed eating at Sweet Tomatoes for many years! Great service and excellent healthy food at a very reasonable price! We are heartbroken to hear that you are closing!” Yolanda Rossy, a Facebook user left the comment on Souplantation’s Facebook fan page.