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Souplantation Reopening in La Mesa Delayed, But Not Deterred

The soup-and-salad, all-you-can-eat-buffet is coming back to the county it was born in -- in its own way

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

La Mesa’s Souplantation revival did not reopen July 4 as planned due to supply chain issues, according to Hannah Romita, the restaurant’s kitchen manager.

The restaurant, which is tucked away in a quiet plaza off Fletcher Parkway, appears sleepy. “Souplantation is coming back” bubble letters on a chalkboard sidewalk sign announce in front of the La Mesa location.

On top of the sign, a yellowed letter is taped, beginning with “Dear Souplantation Nation.” The global shortage of microchips has delayed the delivery of the restaurant’s fire alarm panels, keeping the business from passing fire inspection, the letter reads. 

Souplantation's Long-Awaited Reopening in La Mesa Delayed by Supply Chain Crisis

In the meantime, Romita is working to open the restaurant fully, though an opening date has not yet been set. The menu and recipes for the new restaurant will be the same as in the old Souplantation, according to the owner's comment in an Instagram post.

For months, the sign has dangled hope for Souplantation fans who were dismayed when the restaurant franchise announced a total nationwide closure in May of 2020, only two months into the pandemic. 

On the morning of Aug. 7, owners began removing the old Souplantation sign above the restaurant's front doors, according to their Instagram post.

"The old sign will be replaced by new sign. The Reopening date depends on fire inspection and other permits. It will take couple months. We are pushing forward," they wrote in the post.

The restaurant’s Instagram account, housing only four (half of which are pictures of cats) posts as of July 19, has already attracted 13,000 followers and has been consistently growing.

“I’ve been thinking of you everyday and I will gladly wait as long as it takes for you to reopen. I love you so much,” one user wrote on their most recent Instagram post. 

“Who do you need us to call,” another asks. Others plead for Souplantation to come back to Los Angeles, Orange County, Staten Island, even. Superfans vowed to drive from Pasadena, Los Angeles and Arizona to dine again at Souplantation.

“We are determined to continue our efforts in bringing our beloved Souplantation back to life. We Love You and we will keep you posted,” Romita wrote in a post.

Souplantation officially shuttered all 97 of their Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants in May of 2020 due to COVID-19 and FDA recommendations that didn't allow for salad bars and buffets. "Sweet Tomatoes" was the name the restaurant used for all locations outside of Southern California.

At the time of its closure John Haywood, CEO of Souplantation's parent company Garden Fresh Restaurants, told NBC 7, "We have explored all options during the last 8 weeks, but since we closed due to COVID-19 due to FDA recommendations to not permit salad bars and buffets which the states are following, we’ve engaged in bankruptcy counsel to explore the best option for the company."

The very first Souplantation restaurant opened its doors on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego in 1978. The company expanded across the American West, Southwest and Southeast, even as far east as Florida.

It seems fitting that Souplantation's reincarnation should happen in the place of its origin. One thing is predictable: Souplantation fans are determined to see this La Mesa location open its doors.

Souplantation is located at 9158 Fletcher Pkwy, La Mesa, CA 91942.

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