All 97 of the salad buffet-style restaurants in the Sweet Tomatoes chain across the nation, including three local outposts, will permanently close, parent company Garden Fresh Restaurants says.
Company CEO John Haywood verified the rumored closures to the San Diego Union-Tribune, highlighting the FDA restrictions for operating a buffet during the current crisis, adding, “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.”
Locally, Sweet Tomatoes offered a more health-conscious alternative to the extreme dining opportunities synonymous with resort buffets. The northwest restaurant at 2080 N. Rainbow Boulevard and the Henderson branch at 375 N. Stephanie Street both debuted in 2006, with a southwest expansion at 9460 W. Flamingo Road featuring a 50-foot salad bar for more than a decade.
The future of the Las Vegas buffet as a dining institution remains in question, especially on the Strip. Caesars Palace initiated a multi-million dollar makeover of its 25,000-square-foot, 600-seat Bacchanal Buffet on the Strip, but has yet to reveal details of how customers will be served or choose their dishes.
Last month the Corner Market Buffet at the Treasure Island filed paperwork valued at an estimated $192,784 to demolish the entire buffet space. Yet to be announced, or confirmed by the resort, a remodel of this size almost guarantees once T.I. is able to reopen to the public later this year, the buffet area will continue to be hidden behind plywood.