Yes, Sweet Tomatoes is closing permanently, including all Orlando locations

click to enlarge The now-closed Sweet Tomatoes at 4678 E. Colonial Drive - Screenshot via Google Maps
Screenshot via Google Maps
The now-closed Sweet Tomatoes at 4678 E. Colonial Drive
As restaurants begin to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that self-serve eateries and buffets may have a much harder time.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Garden Fresh Restaurants, the parent company of buffet-style chain Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation, announced Thursday that it would permanently close every single one of its locations.

Yesterday's announcement means 4,440 employees will lose their jobs.

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“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” said John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh to the paper. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it,."

Yesterday's announcement means 4,440 employees will lose their jobs.

As of now, no apparent timeline has been announced for the closures, and calls to corporate headquarters and as well as local Sweet Tomatoes locations went unanswered.

Here in Central Florida, there were five Sweet Tomatoes locations in the Orlando area and seven in the Tampa Bay area.

This story originally appeared in our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
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