Restaurant Review: Soup ‘n Fresh embodies beloved Souplantation

Kelli Makenna Kuttruff
Arts Editor

The new buffet-style restaurant Soup ‘n Fresh, inspired by the long-time customer favorite Souplantation, had its soft opening on Feb. 28. 

Soup ‘n Fresh is an independent family-owned business and is not affiliated with Souplantation, but was inspired by the concept, food and popularity of the restaurant. 

Souplantation was one of many restaurants and chains that did not survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Its beloved buffet-style was particularly difficult to adapt to the strict social distancing restrictions of the pandemic.  All of the chain’s 97 locations, including Sweet Tomatoes shops across the region, closed permanently in 2020.

Fans of the former chain now have the opportunity to re-live their fondest memories of Souplantation, at Soup ‘n Fresh. 

Soup ‘n Fresh is located at 8966 Foothill Blvd. in Rancho Cucamonga – in the exact location of the former Souplantation. It will continue to stay open daily through their soft launch until their grand opening on April 2. They are open from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday’s and Saturday’s. 

They offer a set price to eat based on age group with a wide array of options and refills galore. Adults can eat lunch for $16.99 and dinner for $18.99, and seniors ages 55 and older can have lunch for $14.99 and dinner for $18.99. Children ages four to eight can eat for $8.99, and ages nine to 12 for $10.99 all day. Kids under three years old can eat for free.

A consistent line of customers formed out the door of the restaurant, where they braved the 30 to 40 minute wait to see if Soup ‘n Fresh would live up to their expectations. The sound of busy workers keeping the buffet food stocked and fresh radiated through the establishment, along with the chatter of delighted customers. Almost exactly like Souplantation, Soup ‘n Fresh offered an impressive salad bar, delicious soups, bread and desserts such as their classic soft serve. Patrons have the option to refill their plates and bowls to their heart’s content with an incredible amount of healthy and tasty options. 

Business Manager of Soup ‘n Fresh Bryan Lopez grew up frequenting the Souplantation in Arcadia with his family up until their closing during the pandemic. The idea for Soup ‘n Fresh was his father’s as they were sitting at a restaurant across the street looking at a closed Souplantation. From that day, Soup ‘n Fresh was born and Lopez said it has exceeded his expectations.

It took about a year to open the restaurant, and they currently have about 70 members of full-time and part-time staff. 

Since their soft opening, they have seen over one thousand customers per day excited to try the new restaurant inspired by Souplantation.

“If you used to go to Souplantation, obviously it’s remodeled, but the layout is the same and a lot of the foods are the same,” Lopez said. “I think what’s different is that we’re a small business. We’re not a corporation that is just trying to make a buck here. We’re really trying to make this as friendly as possible for the customers and all the people that have supported us for so long.”

Lopez said that the most challenging part of this opening is that many customers have incredibly high expectations. Many of these customers believe that Soup ‘n Fresh is the same company as Souplantation, without understanding that they are completely separate. So far customers have had a multitude of positive reviews of Soup ‘n Fresh.

“It has been really rewarding to hear how many people have been impacted by this… because people tell me that they cried after Souplantation closed down,” Lopez said. “The fact that they can come here and be happy now and relive old memories… that’s really great.”

Sylvia Garcia, a hostess at Soup ‘n Fresh, has been with the company since the beginning. She said that since they opened there has always been a line out the door and customers leaving happy, and even asking about when they will expand. 

“We have a crowd every single day,” Garcia said. “This past weekend there were people waiting up to three hours in line.”

This line only deterred customers Jenny Park and Derek Magee from Rancho Cucamonga momentarily. They had come to try to eat at the restaurant once since the soft opening, but ended up waiting until the next day due to the massive line of customers outside. 

Park used to live by a Souplantation and went frequently, and found out about the inspired Soup ‘n Fresh restaurant through social media. 

Magee wanted to try Soup ‘n Fresh because of the nostalgia of eating Souplantation as a kid. 

“I think that it’s hard to explain the appeal of it because it’s just mostly soup and salad,” Magee said. “But I think once you go and you eat the food then you will go, ‘This is a place that I want to continue to come to.’”

The team at Soup ‘n Fresh is committed to listening to customers and improving before their grand opening. They have feedback boxes and a responsive social media account that is there to encourage customers to share what they think and be a part of their development.

“We very much do want to involve the customers in all of this,” Lopez said. “We don’t want to just have it be what Souplantation used to be. We want to make sure that the customers also have a say in how we grow.”

Kelli Kuttruff can be reached at kelli.kutruff@laverne.edu

Kelli Makenna Kuttruff is a senior communications major with an emphasis in public relations. She is the arts editor of the Campus Times, and is in her second semester as a staff writer.

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