Join Club Veg
Get $75 in savings this year!
Follow Us
Facebook Twitter Our Blog


by Tracy M. on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 · 74 comments

in Company News,Industry News,Press Releases

Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes Becomes Nation’s First Large-Scale Restaurant Chain to Obtain Green Restaurant Association Certification

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. Announces Sustainability Efforts Across its more than 120 Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes Restaurants Nationwide

SAN DIEGO (Sept. 14, 2011) – Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company to Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, announced today its sustainability initiatives and Green Restaurant Association certification. Garden Fresh is the largest restaurant chain in the nation to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, an industry standard in restaurant sustainability.

Garden Fresh has been working toward certification for the past two years and has now completed the process. As part of the sustainability measures taken, Garden Fresh has upgraded to high-efficiency spray valves, energy-efficient lighting, Green Seal-certified cleaning products and recyclable glass, paper, aluminum, and cardboard packaging. Every year, Garden Fresh estimates it will save 2.1 million pounds of waste paper, 7.5 million gallons of water, 4.4 million kilowatts of energy and 3,194 cubic yards of landfill space because of these current changes. The company is a Styrofoam-free restaurant chain and guests at Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes restaurants already use non-disposable dishes and cutlery, diverting waste from landfills and incinerators.  As part of this certification, Garden Fresh will provide sustainability educational training to its employees annually.

“We have always sought innovative ways to be thoughtful about our impact on the environment.  I believe that attitude is consistent with our product, the wishes of our guests and our brand,” said Michael Mack, CEO of Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. “The Green Restaurant Association provided us with a wonderful opportunity to further our efforts and we strongly value their hard work in transitioning the restaurant industry into a more environmentally responsible industry. Not only do we serve greens on our salad bars, but also all of our locations are now officially ‘green’ restaurants. We hope to set a standard among other national and large-chain restaurants to encourage them to follow suit.”

“We are pleased to see a restaurant chain of this volume be the pioneer in ‘green’ initiatives and set a standard in the restaurant industry,” said Jennifer Fleck, communications manager at the Green Restaurant Association. “The U.S. throws out 243 million tons of trash every year, 57 percent of which is buried in landfills. Garden Fresh is taking proactive steps to help reduce this number.”

The Green Restaurant Association, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote sustainability in the restaurant industry, certified Garden Fresh restaurants as a Two-Star Certified Green Restaurant. Under the certification process, Garden Fresh underwent environmental upgrades in all of its restaurants across the nation. The GRA reviewed the following categories to ensure sustainability requirements were met:

  • Energy
  • Sustainable Food
  • Water Efficiency
  • Waste Reduction & Recycling
  • Disposables
  • Chemicals & Pollution Reduction
  • Sustainable Furnishings & Building Materials

For more information about sustainability efforts at Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes restaurants, visit

About Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes

Celebrating over 30 years, Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes was founded in 1978 in San Diego and currently operates more than 120 salad buffet-style restaurants across the western, southern and eastern portions of the United States. Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes creates an all-you-care-to-eat dining experience with a daily selection of made-from-scratch soups and salads and hand-crafted muffins, focaccia, breads and tasty 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 wholesome meals. The restaurant concept is 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/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, please visit or

About the Green Restaurant Association

The Green Restaurant Association is a national non-profit organization that provides the only official Certified Green Restaurants® mark in the country. For two decades, the GRA has pioneered the Green Restaurant® movement and has been the leading voice within the industry encouraging restaurants to listen to consumer demand and green their operations using transparent, science-based certification standards. With their turnkey certification system, the GRA has made it easy for thousands of restaurants to become more environmentally sustainable in a profitable manner.  The GRA is endorsed by scores of national environmental organizations such as NRDC and Environmental Defense, and esteemed trade organizations including the New York State Restaurant Association, Orange County Restaurant Association, and America Public Garden Association. The GRA is also an Energy Star partner. In 2010, Citysearch announced the GRA as their official Green Restaurant® listing partner. The GRA has been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, NPR, and in The New York Times, and The Washington Post. For more information, visit

# # #

Tweet This

{ 2 trackbacks }

Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes Becomes Nation’s First Large-Scale Restaurant … | San Diego Bar Reviews
Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:20 am
2012/04/21 |
Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 7:42 am

Will you go a step further and assure your customers that all your food choices will be GMO free?


Sue Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I totally agree! Go GMO too.


Ann Monday, October 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Exactly! Please go GMO free Soup Pllantation! Otherwise my family and I will never be able to eat at your restaurant. Good job on going green in other ways.


Barbara Laxon Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 8:34 am

yes GMO free is the way to be


Jack Kuriyama Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I couldn’t agree more. Could you imagine an organic Soup Plantation free of GMO?!! It would be revolutionary. Sadly I don’t go to Soup Plantation much these days, because I want to avoid GMO.


Ray Friday, March 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Organic!!!! Stop the chemicals in our soil, air, water, and selves!!!!!! Start a trend!!!


Carol Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 5:31 am

Ditto that, Ray, Jack, Barbara, Ann, etc.

Go GMO-Free please~


admin Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8:53 am

Hi Carol – In general, all of our fresh produce is GMO free. However, we currently don’t promote or guarantee it at this time, as we occasionally make vendor substitutions from time to time based on product availability and seasonality. We can tell you that we always strive to provide the highest quality of produce and ingredients in our restaurants.


D Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

Not good that you use GMOs when you can’t find ingredient. Make something else!

Ban Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm

How about labeling the GMO ingredients so people can avoid if you cannot guarantee.

Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 8:50 am

This is great!! Headed there today to celebrate…such a fun place for my kids and myself…something yummy for everyone ;)


GG Howson Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

will you PLEASE open in Idaho!!!!!!!


Meagan Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Bravo for all you are doing!! What is being done with food waste? It would help the environment in many ways if the compostable waste was picked up by a local composting company!


Dawn Monday, February 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Agreed. Or donated to a food bank, second harvest, pig feed, etc.


Barbara Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 8:36 am

yes any food bank is first choice, then compost


Monique Conner Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 9:15 am

Ice cream


Monique Conner Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 9:16 am

Going to the sweet tomatoes July 3, 2013 Wednesday

Elisa Huang Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I am a Club Veg member.


melinda moore Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Hi, thank you for the emailed coupons, I have used them. I was just wondering why you give a birthday coupon that is the same as your regular coupons. At apple bees they sent me a free meal coupon. Your birthday coupon to me, was the regular buy on meal get one free with two drinks coupon that you send out each month, which does not make me feel like I got a birthday coupon, but just your regular coupon. Thanks


Curtis Shepherd Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I felt the exact same way when I got my “birthday coupon.” Almost made me feel like someone was trying to pull a fast one.


Eileen Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

This is the only restaurant my husband and I frequent. We’ve gotten sick at a few restaurants. But never at Souplantation. We starting eating at Souplantation in 1989 in San Diego. We travel a lot, and everywhere we go we look for a Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes. .


Eileen Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 8:42 am

My husband said I forgot to say Thank you for the coupons. They have really made things easier for us trying to eat healthy and enjoy a nice meal in a pleasant environment.
Thank you.


Steph Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 7:01 am

ata girl! Way to be thankful! This is such a great place, we go all the time. There are so many people complaining on here about stuff that either doesn’t matter, they can’t PROVE makes any difference in anything (either the environment or their own diets) they just heard it somewhere, it’s all speculation and makes them feel good to say green, organic, gmo free, sustainable. No onemcan define any of those terms much less give any facts that they matter. If you don’t like the way Souplantation does things, go somewhere else and leave them alone. It’s a free country. That means, they can operate their business how they please, and you can go somewhere else if you don’t like it.


Darren Casden Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 9:39 am

This is all well and good, but how about you start to focus on the food you’re serving as well as the trash you’re not. Why don’t you start using food that is grown pesticide free and all natural? You could start by showing off what items are Organic. How about all natural ingredients in your soups and baked goods? How about all natural ingredients in your ice cream (my kids eat a ton of it). This would really be an improvement and I’d eat their much more often.


cecelia Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 10:18 am

I agree!!! go organic and gmo free please! it’s 2012!


Merle Wexler Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 2:55 pm

What is GMO? I feel silly for not knowing those initials even though I am certainly behind the concept of going green. Thanks,


admin Monday, April 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

Hi Merie – GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.”


CELLA FOSSE Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I love Sweet Tomatoes because every Monday I can enjoy the best MUSHROOM SOUP, thanks. Congrats 2 the employees…, they are sooooo good.


Carly Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

When traveling we keep Sweet Tomatoes list of restaurants in the glove box and have been to many in various states.
Hope you open in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.


Laurette Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

How about a Souplantation or Sweet Tomatoes somewhere near Atascadero, Paso Robles or San Luis Obisbo…anywhere on the Central Coast? We have to drive over 2+ hours to get to one of your locations.


mary warren Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

I agree! Why not consider a Soupplantation or Sweet Tomatoes in our area on the
Central Coast . We used to have a Fresh Choice in San Luis Obispo, but it got traded
for a California Pizza Kitchen which is not the same at all.
Thank you,


Helen Hermestroff Monday, September 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

love eating at Supplantation-everything is always delicious. Every time I receive coupons I gather up friends or my grandson who is in college and loves to fill up at Supplantation..

How do I become a Green Member??


Suzanne Monday, September 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Yes, I would like to know what on the menu is pesticide free and/or organic? My daughter can only eat foods w/o pesticides. We stopped going because of her not knowing what is OK to eat. Could you please let us know? We really miss going to Souplantation.


Kim Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I was in your restaurant when it first opened in The Villages, Florida. I joined your club hoping to be able to enjoy my favorite foods, soup & salads. I have to admit I was very displeased. There weren’t even any normally expected salads like cole slaw, potatoe salad, chef salad and or the fixins to create your own. The food appeared to be only spiced with white/black pepper & No salt or other seasonings, unless it added heat.. This gave the food no flavor & too spicey to eat. I was GREATLY disappointed in your “Big Chunk Nopdle Soup”. Hardly anyone can make bad chicken noodle soup, but yours tastes like pasty noodles, water & flat unflavorful chicken. There are other ways to season foods than with “hot or spicey” seasonings, like pepper in almost everything. No matter how much salt I added tp the Chicken soup, it still tasted like water. It didn’t appear to have any real chicken stpck or even broth in it at all. I make my own chicken soup stock with plenty of flavor using chicken, onions, garlic,carrots & sea salt. Adding things like sweet onions & garlic would be a tremendous start. I ate at one in Clearwater, FL & the food was most flavorful & enjoyable. I would think that your recipes would be “stock” & at least the basics used at each location. I tried each of the bread/muffins & found the same lack of flavor. The so called blue berry muffins were awful. It’s such a shame because the potential is fantastic, but obviously “flavor” except “hot” is not a part of your cuisine. I’m sure you won’t print this, because it’s not a glowing review. But someone in your corporation ought to at least give some thought to my custructive criticism. A hopeful diner who won’t return…so sad!


Tracy M. Friday, September 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

We are sorry to hear about that. We always hear great comments on our Big Chunk Chicken Noodle, perhaps we had an off day. Thank you for your feedback, we will be sure to share it with our culinary team. Our menu changes on a bi-weekly and offer a varitety of soups, salads, pastas and much more, we do hope that you will dine with us again.


Ian Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Why not have signs at the stores that indicate which foods are vegan as well as vegetarian? Also like the other posts have asked which foods are grown with and without pesticides and which are GMO and which are not? Are any of the veggies organic?


Tracy M. Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm

We’re working on labeling our vegan products in the restaurant. Right now, our Minestrone is vegan and the roasted potato salad is vegan. At this time we do not use organic but it is an option we are looking for in the future. Thanks!


Theresa Shay Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Tracy M.
I’m glad to hear you are considering going organic. That would be great! We are trying to eat that way at home, but it would be nice to have an eating-out option too.


Nicky Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Please open a restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ where was the Soup and Salad for many years, on Tatum and Cactus. You have a lot of people around this area who don’t want to go far away to find a Sweet Tomatoes, instead they go to the restaurants near by and many look for the healthy choices that you have. You will make a good choice


gloria Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 9:44 am

Dined at Sweet Tomatoes in Fl. yesterday. Enjoyed everything. You had a Glazed Sweet Potatoe mixed with Apples (hot) which was delicious. Is there any way to get that recipe? We eat at Sweet Tomatoes at least once a week and have never been disappointed. Thanks for the coupons. They are a wonderful idea during this time for so many people.


Tracy M. Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm

We aren’t giving out the recipe at this time, our guests are encouraged to purchase this at our restaurant or online and can bring this delicious dish to their Thanksgiving and holiday party. One dish serves 8-10 lucky people and is $14.99. We prepare it and make it and you take it home and bake it. It is that simple! Enjoy!


Stacey Friday, February 17, 2012 at 4:11 am

Why doesn’t your chicken noodle soup have any veggies in them? I would love to see improvement at least with carrots and celery. I am lactose intolerant so I can’t have the creamy soups. Can you have signs that list the ingredients with heavy cream or milk in them? Can you have at least one vegetable soup cause I have been going there a lot and lately, it has always been cream of * soups. Love your salads. Hope you will go GMO free and support sustainable, natural or use less pesticide farmers and provide more whole foods.


Stacey Friday, February 17, 2012 at 4:14 am

forgot to mention that not all cream of * soups have names with it like the yam bisque. And I can have some milk but not heavy cream.


Dawn Monday, February 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I am also interested in where the food waste goes. I ate there the other day and watched an employee throw 1/3 of a tray of bread into the trash. I also overhead one employee instructing another to throw all of the baked goods and pasta away. Where does this food go?


paige Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7:28 am

Please go organic or at least offer some organic options and label the organic and the vegan options….Thanks


Brian Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Another vote for introducing some organic ingredients, especially for produce with high pesticide ratings (celery, spinach, for instance). We would pay the extra premium.


Mike Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 8:50 am

you have my family’s vote as well for going organic and labeling vegan and organic options


Kathy Friedman Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm

As a diabetic i feel that your company is not diabetic friendly. We are a large family that enjoys your restaurant except for the fact that during breakfast you do not provide sugar free syrup for the french toast. Nor do you provide sugar-free baked goods. These are simple and inexpensive items that would accommodate the diabetic customers of you restaurants. The sugar free moose type deserts are awful! They have a terrible chemical taste and are greasy and taste like fat! There is absolutely no reason for your company not to make these simple changes.


Linda Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 7:52 am

Love the “Green” Strides your making. And very happy with your marking the GF foods. Hope to see many more in the days to come.

Any chance dairy could be labeled for the dishes, in the future or at least the GF pre-made salads be dairy free too? Many folks that are GF also have a dairy or lactose intolerance. Love your restaurant! I go to the one in Kissimmee, FL.


April Dangerfield Friday, June 22, 2012 at 8:01 am

We enjoy going to Souplantation. Because of the convenience, vast choices of foods, we average 1 trip a week. We would really like to hear that you have all GMO free food and organics. We would definiately increase our visits. Congratulations on receiving Green Restaurant Association Certification.


Deepa Friday, August 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Please please go organic and GMO free. As you can see from many comments, people are more interested in the organic and GMO free food. Our frequency of visits will definitely increase if you do that.


Siva Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I love Soup plantation and eat there every day (mira mesa and Rancho bernardo). It is one of the best place for a raw vegan like me. I just eat salads and maybe sometimes soup. HOWEVER I am really worried about non-organic lettuce with pesticides, so I am seriously considering eating at whole foods instead of Soup plantation. If not all items in the salad bar, can you please please make the romain lettuce Organic? I would then be able to continue dining at your place everyday. Please keep up the good work, but please give it a serious consideration to go Orgnanic. i wouldn’t mind payign a little extra for it. Thank you! Siva


Kannan Monday, October 8, 2012 at 1:38 am

Please go Organic like everyone is saying…..


Elizabeth Monday, October 15, 2012 at 6:33 am

Hi, I would have to agree with the others… Offer GMO free organic items and my family and I will be there all the time :)


Christina Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I agree with everyone else. Organic and GMO free would make this the most amazing restaurant ever! Also adding a station for some grilled chicken or another meat would be nice to have. None-the-less its absolutely delicious and i love coming here. Thank you for all of your hard work :)


Tomato Dave Monday, January 28, 2013 at 8:25 am

I would have to agree with the rest – if the food was both organic and lacking GMO’s this restaurant would move up to a whole new level! I still absolutely love this place regardless, you guys do a fantastic job.


Jan Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Agreed. Please go organic and GMO free. We would eat there more often if you did. I also understand that in the south you have a beef stew. Would love to see that on the menu in OR.


Maritza Patino Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 7:45 am



Terri Sherman Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

Please open stores on long island


Constance Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 8:54 am

I just love sweet tomatoes. My family and I have vacationed in fla for the past 12 years. My kids have always begged to go there since they love fresh products and don’t care for fast food. This year there won’t be a vacation for us since my daughter is entering college and the funds are limited. I am having sweet tomatoes withdrawal. We normally would be in fla for 3-4 weeks and visit sweet tomatoes at least 15 times. I still get the emails from club veg and wish i was there for my favorite Italian week and Asia week. My question is when is sweet tomatoes coming to the northeast . I live in ny but would travel to conn or nj to eat sweet tomatoes. Please come up here!!!


admin Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thank you for your suggestion, Constance! We don’t currently have any expansion plans for that area but love to know where we are wanted next.


mary westwood Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 6:08 pm

After reading the many comments, I’m wondering why my family never receive free coupons;
ENJOY THE FOOD YOU PREPARE (with or without coupons) Please do go GMO FREE!!


admin Monday, October 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

Hi Mary – Be sure that you are part of our Club Veg email program to receive all of our emails and promotions.


martin Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 9:59 am

Please please go back to the frozen yogurt you used to serve instead of the flavorless paste that you call “soft serve” ice cream. Otherwise we love Souplantation.


Michael Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 9:24 am

Since our Government and specifically the FDA refuse to protect its citizens from harmful components in the foods we eat then it is incumbent upon patrons of stores and restaurants to request the use of non-GMO foods. Please consider this request for it will affect Sweet Tomatoes ‘ profit. Best Regards. ~M


admin Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 11:20 am

Hi Michael – In general, all of our fresh produce is GMO free. However, we currently don’t promote or guarantee it at this time, as we occasionally must make vendor substitutions based on product availability and seasonality. We can tell you that we always strive to provide the highest quality of produce and ingredients in our restaurants. In fact, we ask all our growers and suppliers to provide us with a complete specification sheet for every ingredient that we purchase to ensure that we are always giving our guests the freshest and safest food possible. I hope that helps to answer your question. Thanks and have a great day.


Sharon Monday, January 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Non-GMO foods are very important to my friends and me too.


Marina Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Just wanted to drop a couple lines and let the managers at the Sweet Tomatoes in Kissimmee, FL know that they have really great staff. Our favorite server is Jellie. We visit the restaurant on a weekly basis and we always look out to be seated with her. She is amazing with our kids, very sweet, patient, and helpful at every turn. You can tell that she really takes pride and enjoys her job. We have consistently observed that she is a positive person and a very hard worker. She moves around the place so quickly and throws heavy buckets of ice over her head! Thank you for recruiting such quality people, we will definitely keep coming.


admin Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Thank you for your kind words, Marina! We always love to know when we exceed our guests’ expectations.


Sheri Metschan Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 8:10 am

I see comments about going GMO free so I will add to that. If an item is GMO free could you label it as such. That way we can make an informed choice about the ingredients we choose to put in our salad. It would also eliminate the potential customers who WON’T eat there because they don’t know.


admin Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

Hi Sheri – Primarily all of our produce is GMO free. However, we do occasionally have to make substitutions based on seasonality and availability so cannot always guarantee this at this time. We always aim to provide the safest food, but with occasional changes we cannot currently label everything. We are always striving to improve, so we do appreciate the input and suggestions!


admin Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Hi D – We typically offer GMO free produce but due to shortages we sometimes have to use different vendors to stock our salad bar and cannot always promise this at this time. However, we do strive to provide the highest quality of produce and ingredients and ask all our growers and suppliers to provide us with a complete specification sheet for every ingredient that we purchase to ensure that we are always giving our guests the freshest and safest food possible.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

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.

© 2014 Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.
All Rights Reserved.

Explore Our Site

Online Community

Join Club Veg
Fresh Ideas Blog
Facebook Twitter