Categories
Restaurants

Souplantation Is Auctioning Off All Their Restaurant Equipment For As Little As $1

Fans of Souplantation, the buffet-style salad bar and restaurant, were hit with devastating news early in May this year with the announcement that the chain would close permanently due to revenue loss from the pandemic.

We discovered this week, that many of the 97 restaurants have begun auctioning off their kitchen equipment and furniture at an insanely reduced price.

Within these auctions, done individually by restaurants, one could find meat slicers, racks, utensils, and even ovens for a fraction of what they would have sold for at market value.

For example, a Double Deep Fryer can cost upwards of $10,000 to $20,000. A recent closed bid sold one for $585. In that same auction, an entire buffet bar sold for a ridiculous $1.

Sure you might get into a bidding war, but chances are you won’t come out empty-handed if interested.

For those looking to stock their kitchens with some new, slightly used gear, or simply looking for an inexpensive keepsake from Souplantation, and sister chain Sweet Tomatoes, you might want to check out these auctions. A majority of them will end within the next week.

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#foodbeast Culture FOODBEAST Opinion Restaurants The Katchup

5 New Things You’ll See At Buffets As They Re-Open

The bounty of a buffet has always been the crux of its appeal: all-you-can-eat, get your money’s worth, it’s the American way. Whether it be the high end flourish of a Las Vegas buffet or the comforts of a local Hometown Buffet or Golden Corral, folks have always used the linchpin of a seemingly unending feast to maximize their dining experience. Yet 2020’s pandemic has crippled the restaurant industry, and with the restrictive nature of the new norms, the buffet concept has fallen victim to it.

With social distancing and forcibly limited dining capacities being implemented as the U.S. slowly reopens different segments of business, the future that buffets face has been bleak. Dwindling interest among millennials pre-pandemic already had buffets trying to steer themselves into relevancy by experimenting with different models. But a covid-19 reality these days has universally constrained restaurants, forcing them to take-out and delivery options only, a pivot that doesn’t fit the model of a buffet at all, though places like Golden Corral and Old Country buffet have turned to them for their survival.

However, the challenges the pandemic has brought on buffets have been insurmountable to some, namely the company Garden Fresh Restaurants, owner of AYCE salad bar concepts Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, who recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

In the latest episode of Foodbeast’s The Katchup Podcast, hosts Elie Ayrouth and Geoff Kutnick, along with myself, wax poetic and eulogize just how much Souplantation meant to them, while also exploring the immediately unfortunate prospects buffets have post-pandemic.

Though Souplantaion and Sweet Tomatoes did not decide to give it a go at pivoting to new business models to keep afloat, other buffets have turned to such alternatives, all with varying results. The following are a number of adjustments they’ve done just to survive. Which begs the question: Would Garden Fresh Restaurants have been able to stick around if they tried to maneuver with the times as well?

Cafeteria-Style

Big buffet chain, Golden Corral, has been slowly reopening locations across the country with a new cafeteria-style service model. So think restaurant employees directly serving diners menu items at what otherwise would have been various buffet stations. Also, stanchions are set up as a perimeter around buffet areas, with floor markers indicating where customers can stand safely away from one another. This model also eliminates the prospect of multiple diners touching utensils at once.

Take-Out

Take-out has been the new standard these past couple of months for restaurants to survive. A reliance on third-party delivery apps and their exorbitant fees have proved to be difficult for restaurants to deal with, yet has been enough to keep them afloat, a conundrum in itself that’s brought on separate ethical discussions on the business practices of these apps. Curbside pick-up has also been a helpful option for diners to enjoy their offerings through modified menus designed to coincide with the efficiency of the pick-up.

Family-Style

In this service model, servers treat customers to an “endless buffet” from a selection of menu items. What immediately comes to mind to compare to this would be Brazilian steakhouses, also known as churrascarrias, such as Fogo De Chao, who serve a constant of meats until the diner indicates to stop via a red coaster flipped up. Turning it over to the green side tells servers that they’re welcome to offer more meats to the customer.

Different Payment Options

Before the pandemic, Golden Corral tried to address the waning interest millenials had in buffets by dabbling with different pay systems, namely dropping the pay-one-price model. Further, it was being tested where customers pay at their table, while also being offered three buffet options: soup and salad only, a single trip to the food bar, or unlimited trips. Could experimenting with different pay systems work even better in post-pandemic dining?

Stay As-Is

Fifteen locations of Golden Corral have opted to stick with the old service model. They plan on adhering to the traditional buffet format with an implementation of rigorous cleaning standards and other precautions such as adding hand sanitizing stations and checking diners’ temperatures before being seated. It’s worth noting that 12 of the 15 locations sticking to the original buffet model are in Florida.

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Restaurants

LA Meal Kit Program Creates Curbside Souplantation Experience As A Final Goodbye

The closure of every Souplantation restaurant around the country took us by surprise a few weeks ago as many of us have nothing but fond memories at the health conscious buffet. Truly heartbreaking stuff amid this pandemic.

As a bittersweet ode to Souplantation closing down, the team over at Korean restaurant Seoul Sausage has created a first and last-ever curbside Souplantation experience.

On Friday May 22, the team will be packaging together a spread reminiscent of all things Souplantation is fondly remembered for, including their soups, pastas, salads, pizzas, potatoes, and even right down to their blueberry muffins.

Downtown Los Angeles’ Seoul Sausage is known for doing weekly meal kits and collaborations under their #FoodEqualsFamily program that range from Korean BBQ Kits to Hawaiian meals presented as “to go” experiences.

You can check out the one-day curbside experience Friday, May 22. For those interested in being a part of this final Souplantation experience, you can buy your tickets though the Seoul Sausage website here.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Former Souplantation Manager’s Creepy Craigslist Ad For A Coachella Date Gets Deleted

With the recent news of Souplantation’s parent company, Sweet Tomatoes, filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, and rumors that some locations could close, it’s safe to say some employees are looking for a way out.  Well, one such former employee has made it clear that he’s clearly over his managerial role at the all-you-can-eat chain and is set on, “JUST FUN,” from now on.

Gordon, as he calls himself in a recently posted Craigslist ad — which has now been flagged for removal — is looking to attend Coachella with a, “travel companion.”

In his ad, the newly divorced 56-year-old former Supervising Manager at Souplantation from West Covina explained that after 11 years of marriage, he recently quit his job, cashed out his 401K, and wants to party — beginning with a fun-filled VIP experience during Weekend 2 of Coachella 2017.

Here’s an image of the now deleted ad.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-3-20-50-pm

Gordie’s Craigslist ad seemed innocent enough at first, but quickly transitioned into a creepy, slightly questionable solicitation for a 19 to 25-year-old female with a, “(#3) … fashionable sense of style in the vein of typical coachella goer (i.e. cute indian headband, small ripped jean shorts, lots of colorful bracelets, etc),” who should be willing to follow a 20-point checklist of semi-repulsive requests during the the four-day weekend together.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-3-37-44-pm

While Gordon’s first few rules aren’t that disturbing, things quickly progress into the transgressive realm, starting with stipulation #5.

5. Must keep hands and feet moisturized at all times.

Um, sure?

As the list grows, Gordon’s requests started to shadow a deep sense of fetishism and obsessiveness, not to mention some were borderline demanding.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-3-50-43-pm

Rule #10 was especially critical: Being social is fine but no excessive fraternizing with other male festival-goers, and most definitely NO PUBLIC AFFECTION with other festival-goers (violation of this rule results in immediate removal of Tropic Motor Motel room privileges and maybe even return ride).

So, your guest isn’t supposed to interact with other people at a festival? Why not just watch it online?

Here comes the heavier stuff. Take a breath.

Rule #11 states, “Periodic moments of extended eye contact.”

Wut?

Rule #12 is pretty much where it all started going south.

12. Allow me to brush your hair once per day (not mandatory, but encouraged).

Huh? Why?

Gordon’s not done there. The list continues with awkward requests that seem to showcase a slightly voyeuristic personality, mixed with slight delusion.

For example, rule #15 stated, “Any personal grooming such as toenail clipping, eyebrow plucking or lipstick application must be done in my presence.”

It’s called personal grooming for a reason, Gordon!  Can’t we just go watch Beyonce?!

There’s really no explanation for the rest of his requests, but hey, here we go.

#17. At least twice during the festival you must tell me in a playful manner that “I am naughty.”

Nope.

#18. At some point in time during the festival you must tell me that, “you didn’t know how this would go, but you’re actually having a really good time.”

Why would I lie?

Rule 19 is probably is by far the creepiest request:

19. At least once during our stay after your shower, you must use the steam to write a cute message on the bathroom mirror for me to find later when I shower.

Does, “HELP ME!!!!” count?

Lastly, Gordon’s just there to have a sweet-ass time and just wants you to have a blast, as long as you’re not in violation of the 8,500,000 set of rules he has established.

20.  Must be ready to party and HAVE FUN.

It’s easy to see why this ad was removed, but still, it’s only fair that we hope Gordon meets the, “right one.” But, perhaps he should do so under some less invasive, and more moderately acceptable circumstances.

Categories
Features

13 Souplantation Hacks That’ll Change Your Entire Experience

Souplantation is one of our guilty pleasures. It’s the one place we can eat as much as we want, yet still feel OK about ourselves because it’s mostly soups and salads. Mostly.

Recently, we took an extended lunch and played with some hacks and upgrades one can dabble with at any Souplantation. We gotta admit, we might have had a little too much fun. Though it’s all in the name of discovery, right?

Check out some of the upgrades you can perform to enhance your dining experience.

__________

Loaded Pasta

SP-Loaded-Pasta

Grab any pasta. Be it penne, mac & cheese, carbonara (spaghetti), or linguini and load it up. Throw some mushrooms, bacon bits, cheese, onions, anything you can get your hands on that’ll load it up. Don’t be afraid of dessert toppings as well.

Corn Bread Soup

SP-Corn-Bread-Soup

A popular hack, take a piece of corn bread and break it in half. Then, top it with chili and a little tomato soup. Let the cornbread soak everything up and add some sour cream, cheese and onions. The result should give you a moist, soup-soaked corn bread.

Clam Chowder Pizza

SP-Pizza-Chowder

One of our favorites. Roll over to the pizza bar and grab some slices on a plate. Then, head back to the soup bar and ladle a generous amount of clam chowder. We suggest topping it with shredded cheese. Amazing.

Creamy Mushroom Soup Penne

SP-Creamy-Penne

Another popular hack, grab some penne from the pasta station. Then, go find the Cream of Mushroom from the soup bar and throw some one top the pasta. You’ll have a creamier pasta dish with more flavor and mushroom. Control the texture of the dish with how much pasta you add. Heads up, it’s gonna be rich.

3-Pepper Chili

SP-3-Pepper-Chili

Sure, the chili at Souplantation is great but it could definitely be spicier. Three peppers spicier. Grab yourselves a bunch of jalapeños, a pepperoncini and a generous dash of black pepper. Should kick your chili up a notch.

Bacon Chowder Potato

SP-Clam-Potato

There’s a simple beauty to a baked potato with just butter and salt. However, if you’re doing all-you-can-eat, you’re gonna want to change it up. Split a baked potato in half and ladle some Clam Chowder on top. Then, throw some bacon on it!

Blueberry Muffin Top Ice Cream Sandwich

SP-Muffintop-Sandwich

Everyone’s favorite part of the muffin is the top. It’s been proven time and time again. So we took the top of two blueberry muffins and used them as the part of an ice cream sandwich. Feel free to get some rainbow sprinkles in there, you’re already this far.

All-The-Pasta

SP-Pasta-All

Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Grab all the pastas you can get your hands on. Whether it’s in the pasta station, salad bar, or even if you feel like digging it out of soups. Toss them into a bowl and mix them together. God, those beautiful carbs.

Brownie Chocolate Bites

SP-Brownie-Bites

Souplantation has plenty of chocolate. If you take a brownie from the bakery and break it in half, you can throw some chocolate mousse on top one piece. On the other, put some chocolate ice cream on top (we chose a combination swirl). Let Oreo cookies, or chocolate sprinkles, rain. Finally, drizzle some hot chocolate syrup on top of your dessert.

Vanilla Bacon Cone

SP-Vanilla-Bacon

It’s often been proven that bacon goes great with dessert. So why not combine two of the most readily-avalible items at Souplantation? Make yourself a vanilla cone and sprinkle some bits of bacon on top. It’s delicious.

Sourdough BLT

SP-BLT

Feel like sandwiches? The bakery section should have some freshly baked sourdough slices. Grab yourselves two and head back to the salad station. There, choose from any salad. That’s your lettuce. Grab some cherry tomatoes (we had to dice them up real quick) and finally some bacon bits. If you like your sandwiches a little more moist, we suggest adding a little cream from whatever pasta available with a white sauce.

Loaded Baked Potato

SP-Loaded-Potato

A simple, but essential upgrade. Find yourselves a hot baked potato and start piling. Cheese, onions, sour cream, green onions, basil, soup, bacon, anything you want. Load this baby up until you forget there’s a potato underneath.

Chili à la Mode

SP-Chili-ala-Mode

Ice cream and chili. Just because we wanted to see what it looked like. Yeah, maybe skip this one.

Photos by Peter Pham

Categories
Restaurants

Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes Offer 15 Take-Home Holiday Items

Looking for fresh, made-from-scratch foods this holiday season, but running low on time? All-you-care-to-eat restaurants Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes are easing that burden off your shoulders by offering 15 holiday take-home items. From now until November 19, you can order any of their Thanksgiving holiday items, which will be available for pick-up on November 22 and 23. Here’s a list of their Thanksgiving take-home items:

  • Sweet Maple Apple Tossed Salad with Caramelized Walnuts
  • Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Apples, Cranberries & Walnuts
  • Sweet Potato & Maple Cream Bake with Pecan Praline Topping
  • Available cobbler varieties: Autumn Pumpkin & Walnut, Caramel Apple, Cranberry Apple, Georgia Peach, Mixed Berry & Apple, Tart Cherry and Orchard Apple

All throughout the month of December, they will also offer another variety of take-home items for pick-up. Here’s what they have to offer:

  • Smoked Turkey & Spinach Tossed Salad
  • Turkey Chutney Pasta Salad
  • Available cobbler varieties: Caramel Apple, Cranberry Apple, Georgia Peach, Mixed Berry & Apple, Tart Cherry and Orchard Apple

Orders can be taken over the phone, online, or in the restaurants if you really want to get personal. For more information, (and depending where you go) check out the Souplantation or Sweet Tomatoes website.

Categories
Fast Food

Chipotle and Panda Express: Headliners in a Meat Controversy

Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panda Express, among other fast-food service chains are feeling pressure from consumers and lawsuits over the issue of disclosing the presence of meat in dishes that seemingly look vegetarian or vegan such as beans, rice, and vegetables.

The major controversy ensued when Maxim senior editor Seth Porges learned that Chipotle cooks its pinto beans with a small amount of bacon, which was not outwardly indicated on the menu board although it is revealed on the restaurant’s website. This little detail is actually a problem for more than just vegetarians and vegans such as Porges, who must adhere to strict religious and cultural dietary practices and refrain from eating pork.

Another, customer who has already filed a lawsuit against Chipotle for the same reason is also suing Panda Express for its alleged use of meat-based flavorings in rice. Panda Express denies this allegation, however due to these incidences, Chipotle will be revamping its menu boards soon and indicate that the pinto beans are “flavored with bacon.”

Souplantation/ Sweet Tomatoes, is an example of a restaurant chain that does do an excellent job at specifically indicating which items are vegetarian or vegan from those that are not. Hopefully this issue will increase the number of chains and restaurants to disclose more information from calories to ingredients in the future to educate consumers as well as help them find security in knowing exactly what they’re eating.

[via nrn.com]

Categories
Adventures Cravings

The Taylor Gang Soup

Damn it feels good to be a Taylor,” and that’s what we were all singing when Taylor showed us this amazing concoction on our last rainy-day trip to Souplantation. For those unfamiliar with Souplantation (aka Sweet Tomatoes depending on your region), it’s a chain of all-you-can-eat restaurants that pride themselves on fresh produce and salads, made-from-scratch soups, hot-tossed pastas, freshly baked breads and muffins, frozen yogurt, and more. Of course Taylor had to show us his famous Taylor Gang Soup: a base of chunky chicken noodle soup, a humongous dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, and bacon bits. When he plopped this in front of me, I wasn’t sure what to think. One bite into it though, and my mind was made up. This one was a true winner!