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San Diego, Calif. — March 16, 2015 – Patrick Warburton, soon to be appearing in “Ted 2” and former star of “Seinfeld” and “Rules of Engagement,” is the voice of Souplantation’s new “Discover Fresh” radio campaign — running in Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire and San Diego. In the kickoff spot entitled “Once Upon a Tomato,” Warburton celebrates the short life and sacrificial death of a fresh tomato, so that a luscious Creamy Tomato Soup can be made from scratch in Souplantation’s kitchens.

 

Delivered in his signature wry, boisterous bombast with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Warburton ends the “Tomato” commercial with the phrase, “If a chopped up, pureed and simmered Tomato could smile—he would.” Who can argue with that logic? In the follow-up commercial, broccoli gets “harvested” so it can make everyone happy by being the star of Souplantation’s famous Joan’s Broccoli Madness.

Souplantation’s new CEO John Morberg reached out to Patrick Warburton because John and Patrick were classmates in elementary school. Way back then, John loaned Patrick 25 cents for ice cream and Patrick forgot to pay him back. To make good on that debt, with over 40 years of interest accrued, Patrick agreed to perform the role.

The results have been fruitful, (bad pun intended). So far, in the markets where the spots have run, sales have risen nearly 5%. So what’s next for the old and newfound friends?

That’s a secret, but suffice it to say that fresh produce is shivering in its skins.

About Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes

Headquartered in San Diego, California, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. operates 128 restaurants in 15 states under two brand names:  Souplantation (only in Southern CA) and Sweet Tomatoes. The restaurants provide a one-of-a-kind dining experience where guests are empowered to Discover Fresh™ from an abundant salad bar paired with a selection of eight craveable soups, hot pastas, fresh from the oven baked goods and delectable desserts. Passionately serving families, friends and their communities for more than 35 years, the restaurants are known for their farm-fresh seasonal ingredients, made-from-scratch recipes and hospitable service, all at an everyday value.

For more information, visit www.souplantation.com or www.sweettomatoes.com.

Patrick Warburton is represented by Robin Lamel-Adler of Sutton Barth & Vennari talent.

 

Media Contact:

Stephanie Kolp

Uproar PR

321-236-0102 x226

skolp@uproarpr.com

 

 

Consumer demand for ‘real foods’ grows

Fresh, seasonal and less processed ingredients sought after by Millennials and baby boomers alike

Consumer expectations of food have been in a state of flux driven in large part by dramatic demographic shifts. The huge baby boomer cohort is being supplanted by the massive Millennial generation, and both groups are forcing a reconsideration of issues relating to health and diet. Boomers seek to maintain youthfulness and vigor as they age, and Millennials seek to do the ethical thing for their bodies and the planet. The net result is a steadily growing demand for so-called real foods, a term that is difficult to define and not governed by any formal standards of identity. Real foods do have certain hallmarks in common: They’re typically perceived as fresh, seasonal and less processed. Beyond that, their definition is fluid and evolving, and they afford operators a number of opportunities to address patron demand.

Real foods are clean. A growing focal point of customer concern is food treated with antibiotics or hormones or containing artificial ingredients, and many operators are moving to allay their guests’ fears. Early in 2014, Chick-fil-A announced a five-year phase-out of all poultry raised with antibiotics. While Panera Bread has been serving antibiotic-free chicken for a decade, the chain recently declared that it would remove all artificial additives and preservatives from its menu by the end of 2016. Last December, Starbucks leapt into the fray by asking suppliers to halt the use of artificial growth hormones. Quick-service hamburger chains, often a lightning rod for criticism, have also jumped on board. Carl’s Jr. grabbed headlines by introducing the All-Natural Burger made from grass-fed, free-range beef that has been raised without added hormones, antibiotics or steroids. The burger, which carries a premium price tag and scored extremely well in test markets, is being considered for sister brand Hardee’s.

 

Demand is on the rise for “real foods,” a loosely defined category that can include seasonal produce, meats raised without antibiotics or hormones, natural fats and ingredients with healthful or restorative properties. Photo: Thinkstock

 

Real foods are classics. Concerns regarding the health consequences of trans fats, which are in hydrogenated vegetable oils used in many processed foods, led the Food and Drug Administration to outlaw their use and led restaurateurs to search for alternatives. Beneficiaries include animal fats in general and butter in particular, which has seen consumption jump to a 40-year high as consumers demand wholesome foods with easy-to-understand ingredient lists. Of course, many chefs and bakers never turned away from the product, but others are moving to capitalize on its resurgence. Jack in the Box, for example, introduced the Classic Buttery Jack, in which the beef patty is topped with melted garlic-herb butter, a treatment typically reserved for steaks; and Epic Burger, a Chicago-based better-burger competitor, promotes non-processed, all-natural food and touts its buttered buns.

Like butter, lard never truly lost its luster as a cooking agent of choice in professional kitchens and bakeries, despite being shunned by fat-phobic consumers. Also like butter, it’s undergoing a revival. Chicago’s Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits proclaims that it “proudly uses leaf lard,” the milder fat found along the pork loin. Nearby Honey Butter Fried Chicken has generated publicity with Schmaltz Smashed Potatoes, using chicken fat left over from the whole Amish chickens butchered there, and in Los Angeles, Top Round Roast Beef, a roast-beef sandwich specialist, cooks its hand-cut fries in 100 percent beef fat.

Real foods are beneficial. Greek yogurt, with its amped-up protein content, has taken grocery dairy cases by storm, and protein-rich quinoa has swept menus. Riding on the wave of these better-for-you powerhouses, broth has broken out all over. Prized for its restorative properties, broth has become the “it” beverage at independents like Brodo in New York City and Red Apron Butchery in Washington, D.C., which offer it as a convenient, nutritious pick-me-up. Sibling chains Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation featured Asian Ginger Broth as a January special, and Panera Bread has launched a line of Broth Bowls that includes a Lentil Quinoa Bowl with Cage-Free Egg.

Looking ahead, the concept of real food will continue to gain currency as an umbrella term encompassing a broad range of product promises, including sustainably grown, organic and farm to table, as well as fresh or freshly made local and seasonal foods. Understanding their patrons’ expectations of real food will enable operators to successfully address the trend.

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When Technomic released a study last year that researched transparency in the supply chain, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corporation CEO John Morberg took the data seriously. The study found that most consumers want restaurants to be more transparent about ingredients, and Morberg knew customers at Garden Fresh’s Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation restaurants were no different.

“Guests ask us all the time, ‘Where does this come from?’” Morberg says. The answer is that the brands’ ingredients come from local farms and ranches—no middlemen involved—but Morberg believed the company wasn’t doing enough to share that story with customers.

Inspired by Garden Fresh’s recent “Discover Fresh” campaign, which is a store remodel and marketing program focused on the brand’s dedication to farm-to-table food, Morberg developed what Garden Fresh calls “Farm Teams.” The Teams are employee duos in each store that serve as brand ambassadors, sharing the company’s authentic story of healthy, sustainable foods.

When the company launched the endeavor in November, it also invited Garden Fresh farmers to one of the chain’s 12 San Diego locations to converse face-to-face with transparency-hungry guests.

Bob Campbell, a fourth-generation grower at Campbell Ranches in Lompoc, California—also known as “Broccoli Bob” to the Garden Fresh family—spoke with consumers about the importance of generating appeal for healthy foods.

“I think the more people you can introduce to freshness, good quality, and a more flavorful product, then the more people are going to be attracted to vegetables,” Campbell says.

“All we have to do is just authentically tell the story. We have nothing to hide.”

And he’s willing to take the transparency process a step further: Campbell invites customers to his farm to show them exactly how the broccoli they eat at Garden Fresh restaurants makes it to their plates. A few days after the initial event, one family took Campbell up on his offer.

“This family drove up from San Diego to see how we grow broccoli,” he says. “It was a great experience for me.” Campbell took the family on a tour of the entire ranch, allowing them to experience first-hand the growing, harvesting, packing, cooling, and delivery processes for broccoli production.

But not all customers can afford to make the five-hour trip from San Diego to Campbell Ranches. That’s why Garden Fresh’s Farm Teams provide customers with a smaller-scale version of the farm-to-table experience, Morberg says.

“The intention of the Farm Team is to help teach [guests], enlighten them, and let them know what we’re doing with our partner farmers that are out there, and the type of quality produce that we receive from them,” he says.

Sustainability innovation advocate Nancy Himmelfarb says the Farm Teams are a great direction for a restaurant company.

“They certainly are capitalizing on consumer interest in local foods,” Himmelfarb says. She points to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” trend list in its 2015 Forecast as proof that these types of campaigns are what customers are interested in. The chef survey found that locally sourced, environmentally sustainable, minimally processed, and healthy foods were in the top five food trends chefs expected this year.

The Farm Teams test phase is underway in San Diego, consisting of six brand ambassador teams that rotate weekly throughout Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants at peak hours. Team members wear bright green T-shirts to stand out among restaurant visitors. Some teams meet and greet patrons at the door, while others chat directly with guests via table-to-table interactions.

Without millions of dollars to spend on advertising and public relations, Morberg says, these word-of-mouth interactions are cost-efficient ways to spread the Garden Fresh story. The Farm Teams also publicize the Garden Fresh story via radio advertisements and through informative coloring sheets for younger restaurant guests.

“A lot of kids are saying they want to be part of the Farm Teams,” he says. “We’re thinking it could go in really great directions. I’m going to send busloads of kids to see Bob.”

Based on positive guest feedback thus far, Morberg feels optimistic about expanding the program. He aims to plant Farm Teams in locations in Los Angeles and Orange County in the coming months. If efforts continue to prove successful, the company will expand the Farm Team concept across the U.S.

As Garden Fresh expands its Farm Team reach, Himmelfarb says, the company must continue to practice what it preaches. “There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from being open and honest about what’s in your food,” she says. “If they’re saying, ‘We’re fresh and we’re doing all this great stuff,’ that is fantastic. But then they need to be able to back it up.”

Morberg is more than ready to heed Himmelfarb’s advice. “All we have to do is just authentically tell the story,” he says. “We have nothing to hide. We only have great things to tell, and we think that’s the best way to serve the freshest meal and experience we can for our guests.”

 

 

Consumer demand for ‘real foods’ grows

Fresh, seasonal and less processed ingredients sought after by Millennials and baby boomers alike

Consumer expectations of food have been in a state of flux driven in large part by dramatic demographic shifts. The huge baby boomer cohort is being supplanted by the massive Millennial generation, and both groups are forcing a reconsideration of issues relating to health and diet. Boomers seek to maintain youthfulness and vigor as they age, and Millennials seek to do the ethical thing for their bodies and the planet. The net result is a steadily growing demand for so-called real foods, a term that is difficult to define and not governed by any formal standards of identity. Real foods do have certain hallmarks in common: They’re typically perceived as fresh, seasonal and less processed. Beyond that, their definition is fluid and evolving, and they afford operators a number of opportunities to address patron demand.

Real foods are clean. A growing focal point of customer concern is food treated with antibiotics or hormones or containing artificial ingredients, and many operators are moving to allay their guests’ fears. Early in 2014, Chick-fil-A announced a five-year phase-out of all poultry raised with antibiotics. While Panera Bread has been serving antibiotic-free chicken for a decade, the chain recently declared that it would remove all artificial additives and preservatives from its menu by the end of 2016. Last December, Starbucks leapt into the fray by asking suppliers to halt the use of artificial growth hormones. Quick-service hamburger chains, often a lightning rod for criticism, have also jumped on board. Carl’s Jr. grabbed headlines by introducing the All-Natural Burger made from grass-fed, free-range beef that has been raised without added hormones, antibiotics or steroids. The burger, which carries a premium price tag and scored extremely well in test markets, is being considered for sister brand Hardee’s.

 

Demand is on the rise for “real foods,” a loosely defined category that can include seasonal produce, meats raised without antibiotics or hormones, natural fats and ingredients with healthful or restorative properties. Photo: Thinkstock

 

Real foods are classics. Concerns regarding the health consequences of trans fats, which are in hydrogenated vegetable oils used in many processed foods, led the Food and Drug Administration to outlaw their use and led restaurateurs to search for alternatives. Beneficiaries include animal fats in general and butter in particular, which has seen consumption jump to a 40-year high as consumers demand wholesome foods with easy-to-understand ingredient lists. Of course, many chefs and bakers never turned away from the product, but others are moving to capitalize on its resurgence. Jack in the Box, for example, introduced the Classic Buttery Jack, in which the beef patty is topped with melted garlic-herb butter, a treatment typically reserved for steaks; and Epic Burger, a Chicago-based better-burger competitor, promotes non-processed, all-natural food and touts its buttered buns.

Like butter, lard never truly lost its luster as a cooking agent of choice in professional kitchens and bakeries, despite being shunned by fat-phobic consumers. Also like butter, it’s undergoing a revival. Chicago’s Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits proclaims that it “proudly uses leaf lard,” the milder fat found along the pork loin. Nearby Honey Butter Fried Chicken has generated publicity with Schmaltz Smashed Potatoes, using chicken fat left over from the whole Amish chickens butchered there, and in Los Angeles, Top Round Roast Beef, a roast-beef sandwich specialist, cooks its hand-cut fries in 100 percent beef fat.

Real foods are beneficial. Greek yogurt, with its amped-up protein content, has taken grocery dairy cases by storm, and protein-rich quinoa has swept menus. Riding on the wave of these better-for-you powerhouses, broth has broken out all over. Prized for its restorative properties, broth has become the “it” beverage at independents like Brodo in New York City and Red Apron Butchery in Washington, D.C., which offer it as a convenient, nutritious pick-me-up. Sibling chains Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation featured Asian Ginger Broth as a January special, and Panera Bread has launched a line of Broth Bowls that includes a Lentil Quinoa Bowl with Cage-Free Egg.

Looking ahead, the concept of real food will continue to gain currency as an umbrella term encompassing a broad range of product promises, including sustainably grown, organic and farm to table, as well as fresh or freshly made local and seasonal foods. Understanding their patrons’ expectations of real food will enable operators to successfully address the trend.

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Gluten-Friendly-Vegan-Vegetarian-Menu-at-Souplantation-Sweet-Tomatoes

March brings the gift of Spring and brighter days!  Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes is serving a hearty helping of nostalgia with family favorites like Classic Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Focaccia Dippers.  Enjoy delicious greens and celebrate St. Patrick’s day with Provencal Green Bean & Potato salad or Mandarin Spinach w/ Caramelized Walnuts salad.  Drop in after 4 p.m. and feel like a kid again with Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.  Our selection of fresh ingredients and made-from-scratch entrees are sure to please any palate.

We offer a large variety of options, including the following Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Friendly dishes:

Prepared Deli Salads:

  • Joan’s Broccoli Madness: Gluten-Friendly
  • Wonton Happiness: Vegetarian
  • Fresh Herb Thai Slaw: Vegan and Gluten-Friendly (available 3/1 – 3/14)
  • Mandarin Spinach w/ Caramelized Walnuts: Vegan and Gluten-Friendly (available 3/1 – 3/29)
  • Citrus Penne Pasta: Vegan (available 3/1 – 3/14)
  • Chipotle Lime & Cilantro Quinoa: Vegan and Gluten-Friendly  (available 3/17 – 3/29)
  • Sriracha Ranch Slaw: Vegetarian (available 3/17 – 3/29)
  • Provencal Green Bean & Potato: Vegan and Gluten-Friendly(available 3/17 – 3/29)

Soups:

  • Deep Kettle House Chili:  Gluten-Friendly (regional selections vary)
  • Classic Creamy Tomato: Vegetarian (available 3/1 – 3/31)
  • Seven Vegetable: Vegan (available 3/1 – 3/29)

Hot Pastas:

The following hot pastas are delicious Vegetarian options:

  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Penne Arrabbiata (available 3/1 – 3/29)
  • Roasted Garlic Alfredo (available 3/17 – 3/29)

Focaccias/Bakery:

  • Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly Superfruit and Chia Seed Muffins
    (regional selections vary)

Vegetarian options

  • Blueberry Muffins
  • Brownie Bites
  • Buttermilk Cornbread
  • Quattro Formaggio Focaccia
  • Cheesy Garlic Focaccia
  • Grilled Cheese Focaccia Dippers (available 3/1 – 3/31)

Dessert:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (available 3/1 – 3/31 after 4pm): Vegetarian
  • Banana Upside Down Cake (available 3/26 – 3/31 after 4pm): Vegetarian
  • Chocolate, & Vanilla Soft Serve: Gluten-Friendly & Vegetarian
  • Tapioca Pudding: Gluten-Friendly & Vegetarian
  • Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse: Gluten-Friendly & Vegetarian

Salad Dressings:

(regional selections may vary)

  • Ranch:Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly
  • Fat-free Ranch:Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly
  • Blue Cheese:Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly
  • Fat-free Honey Mustard:Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly
  • Thousand Island:Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly
  • Creamy Italian:Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette: Gluten-Friendly
  • Fat-free Italian: Vegan and Gluten-Friendly
  • Green Chile Ranch: Vegetarian and Gluten-Friendly

Need even more variety? We ALWAYS have the following Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Friendly items available:

  • Fresh cut produce
  • Fresh cut fruit
  • Baked potatoes

Do you have an additional allergy or dietary restriction? Our managers have a full list of ingredients on hand at each location and will gladly assist you in determining which menu items are available to enjoy!

*We define Vegetarian dishes as any menu item not containing poultry, beef, pork or fish
*We define Vegan dishes as any menu item not containing meat, eggs, dairy products, or any other animal-derived ingredients
*We define Gluten-Friendly as any menu item that is prepared using no gluten containing ingredients in a non-gluten-free kitchen. May contain traces of gluten.

Disclaimer:
Due to the nature of our restaurants there is a possibility of cross-contact between menu items. We also make ingredient substitutions from time to time.  This information is intended as a guide and is not a guarantee that a particular product is completely free of certain ingredients.  We encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices if you have a severe sensitivity or allergy to certain foods.

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6 Ingredients One Masterpiece

WATER, SALT, SUGAR, OIL, FLOUR, YEAST.

That’s our focaccia dough. Simply amazing.

QUATRO FORMAGGIO FOCACCIA! YUM.

Our pizza sauce is made from scratch with onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, basil, carrots, and tomatoes. Topped with the finest Mozzarella and Parmesan, with fresh Asiago and Romano right off the block.

CHEESY GARLIC FOCACCIA! YUM. YUM.

California garlic is roasted in virgin olive oil, blended smooth and spread on the dough.  It’s covered in shredded Mozzarella and finished with fresh-chopped Rosemary.

FRESH-BAKED AND GONE.

From mix-to-knead-to-bake, it’s timed out to be fresh out of the oven every 20 minutes.  Hurry, it doesn’t last long.

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In The Mood For Comfort Food

by GFBlog February 26, 2015 Around the Table

Remember when life’s little worries could be solved by a warm bowl of Grandma’s chicken soup or a piece of Mom’s fresh baked bread?  As an adult maybe a warm cup of tea or piece of dark chocolate kept the blues at bay.  Many cultures have go-to comfort foods, wholesome family favorites that are shared [...]

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Garden Fresh Brand Revitalization Results in Sales Success

by rharper February 23, 2015 Company News

Garden Fresh Brand Revitalization Results in Sales Success   Introduces in-store brand ambassadors, Farm Teams   San Diego, Calif. — February 23, 2015 – Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company for Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation restaurants, announces its best month of sales in more than six years. For the month of January, same store sales [...]

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February’s Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Friendly Menu at Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes

by admin February 9, 2015 Health & Nutrition

February is month filled with celebrations! Bring your special someone to Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes and celebrate Valentine’s Day with our luscious Red Velvet Cake. Bring a crowd for a taste of Mardi Gras with Ragin’ Cajun with Chicken and Spiced Pecans Salad, Spicy Cajun Shells, or a French Quarter Praline Muffin. This month we have the [...]

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Before You Grow Mushrooms You Have To Create Soil

by admin February 2, 2015 Health & Nutrition

CREATING SOIL IS LIKE BAKING A CAKE. Straw is the flour, cotton seed is the sugar and almond shells are the eggs. The compost needs to “bake” at 180 degrees as it transforms into soil. Sounds easy! Not. GARY IS THE MUSHROOM MAN. Gary Crouch and his partner Roberto Ramirez run Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farms [...]

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How Two Guys Really Used Their Noodle

by admin January 28, 2015 Health & Nutrition

43 YEARS AGO, THE FUTURE OF PASTA WAS BORN. Mike and Bill met as frat boys at USC. Somehow, maybe after a few beers, they decided to make pasta. They bought an Italian pasta maker and made pasta by hand before it was cool to make pasta by hand. The rest is delicious history. Gourmet [...]

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Make Superfoods Your Fresh Start For 2015

by admin January 20, 2015 Health & Nutrition

Superfoods!  Our menu is filled with these nutrient-dense powerhouses.  If you are looking to transform your resolutions into solutions for healthy living, boosting the superfood count is a great way to a fresh start. This is the year to leave the greasy, over-processed drive thru fare behind in favor of fresh, wholesome food and recipes [...]

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Discover Fresh Abundance


Let's just say within 24 hours of being in the ground, it's on a refrigerated truck on its way to us. Our food is made from scratch every day. Our salad bar buffet features over 50 fresh ingredients, including specialty tossed and prepared salads. In addition to salads, we server original recipe hot pastas, hand-crafted soups, scratch-made muffins, and Focaccia breads in our hot buffet. Create. Indulge. Enjoy.


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