The news was announced by CEO John Haywood at the San Diego Union-Tribune. Bay area employees had already learned that the layoffs would be permanent.
“The FDA had previously issued recommendations that included stopping self-service stations, such as self-service drinks in fast food restaurants, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” Haywood told the newspaper. . “The rules are understandable, but unfortunately, it is very difficult to reopen them. And I’m not sure the health services will ever allow it.“We could have overcome any other hurdle, and we have been working for eight weeks to overcome these intermittent financial challenges, but it will not work if we are not allowed to continue our model. “
Seven Bay Area restaurants will be affected by the closure: two in San José (Coleman Avene, Bernal Road), one in Sunnyvale (Kifer Road), one in Mountain View (Grant Road), one in Fremont (Paseo Padre Parkway ), one in Pleasanton (Hopyard Road) and one in Pleasant Hill (Crescent Drive).
The chain of all-you-can-eat restaurants – with service stations for salads, soups, pizzas and focaccia, desserts, and drinks – started in San Diego in 1978, then expanded across the state and in the USA. The restaurants are called Sweet Tomatoes in Northern California and Soup Plantation in Southern California.
A Washington, D.C.-based company bought the parent company, Garden Fresh, out of bankruptcy in 2016, and said restaurant prospects looked bright until the coronavirus struck.
“We have spent two years looking for and trying to make a difference, and we have actually made a difference,” said Robert Allbritton, president of Perpetual Capital Partners, at Union-Tribune. “We were increasing the number of guests and we were renovating the restaurants with new light fixtures, carpeting and signage until January. We felt very good about it.
“But I have to tell you that when the virus hit, we went from 100% to 70 to 30 to 10% as quickly, before the restaurants closed and the business ran out of money in a week . “
He reportedly said that the company had issued a check for $ 2.5 million to cover the final payroll, but that bankruptcy is still likely because rental payments are due.