Souplantation restaurants’ parent is selling its assets in bankruptcy proceedings


Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., which owns the Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants, will sell its assets to a New York private investment firm as part of its bankruptcy restructuring plan.

The sale, approved in bankruptcy court this week, is expected to be completed by late January. San Diego-based Garden Fresh said that that once it emerges from Chapter 11 later this month, 90 to 104 restaurants will remain.

No significant changes to its day-to-day operations are anticipated, said Garden Fresh, which operates more than 100 company-owned restaurants in 11 states.


At the time of last year’s bankruptcy filing, Garden Fresh received court approval to close 20 restaurants, including those in Utah and Kansas City, as well as multiple locations in Chicago and Dallas. The company didn’t anticipate then that it would need to close any of its Southern California locations.

“This challenging, but necessary, process has created a stronger financial foundation,” Chief Executive John Morberg said in a statement. “Through our partnership with new owners, we plan to accelerate the guest-focused efforts we’ve been making to refresh our brands.”

Garden Fresh is being purchased by affiliates of Cerberus Capital Management, which has more than $30 billion invested in companies across multiple sectors worldwide.

Garden Fresh’s bankruptcy filing last October followed an unsuccessful attempt to sell the company and was part of a corporate overhaul intended to eliminate millions of dollars of debt and return the business to profitability.

Garden Fresh started in 1978 as a single Souplantation location in San Diego. In 1986, it expanded to the broader Southern California region, which remains the core of the business. In 1990, the company expanded further, adding a Palm Harbor, Fla., location under a separate brand name, Sweet Tomatoes. Many more followed.

Weisberg writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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