Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes

Ideation: Bright Sports on the Menu

Restaurant kitchens get creative with winter produce, adding bursts of color and flavor to the plate.

Consumer Trends

2012 trend book: Sustainability

Sometimes big changes come in small packages. It might not seem like a big deal when Sterno cleans up the fuel that has warmed a million buffet pans. Or when a diner can consult their smartphone to find the source of the fish on their plate.

Much of the public buzz around tablets refers to front-of-house applications, whether in the hands of a server taking orders or atop a table, loaded with games and self-ordering capabilities for guests.

Not every restaurant development of the past year deserved commemoration with a smiley face. Here are a few of low points.

A family-casual buffet chain operating as Souplantation in Southern California and Sweet Tomatoes in other areas

The twin chains’ new owners have tapped a turnaround vet to reinvigorate the buffet brands.

Menus from restaurants featured in the December issue of Restaurant Business magazine.

The 50-foot salad bar at Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes is a big draw for guests who come to create customized salads. But the 125-unit chain also offers four varying “recipe” salads tossed fresh every 20 minutes in exhibition kitchens at each location. The most recent of these is the Grilled Steakhouse Salad.

More than half of the restaurant industry’s $491 billion in sales come from the Top 500 chains. And these giants grew at a modestly stronger rate, both in terms of sales and store counts, than the industry overall. Restaurant Business focused on the leading 250 performers to identify trends for our first-ever special report delivering lessons from Technomic’s annual Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report. This special package includes lessons for all operators from the largest chains by segment, menu category and more.

Garden Fresh will be sold to the private-equity company that once owned Chrysler.

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