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So Long, Souplantation

June 20th, 2020 · No Comments · coronavirus

A guilty pleasure of mine, back before Covid-19 changed just about everything … was eating at Souplantation,

And now it is gone.

It was a buffet restaurant with a twist.

It was largely vegetarian, with a wide selection of raw vegetables, and lettuce types, at least three kinds of soup and — this is crucial — soft-serve ice cream on tap.

Little or no meat. OK, a smidge of clam in the chowder and some skinless chicken breast in the soup. Maybe some bacon bits in the Joan’s Broccoli Madness salad.

I probably ate more sit-down meals at Souplantation than anywhere else. I couldn’t hazard a guess at what chain restaurant might be second on my list.

Souplantation’s hold on me started with the salad, which I really like. Some iceberg, some spinach, some romaine.

I like salad as a main dish at least once a week, and if I were in the neighborhood of Souplantation, back when I lived in Southern California, I would often drop by. (Dropping in after covering an afternoon game in Los Angeles or Anaheim … yeah, I did that a lot.)

One store was conveniently located on the edge of Loma Linda, California, the site of a Seventh-day Adventist university as well as a renown hospital. (Adventists are vegetarians, and they seemed to make up a significant fraction of the clientele. Medical personnel, students, et al.)

Me at the Plantation?

This is how it would go:

–Open the door and get a load of all the lettuces. Big bowls of it on either side of the buffet. (I usually went right.)

–After covering a smallish-sized dinner plate with at least two varieties of lettuce, I would stop by for lots of broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Some cauliflower, perhaps. Garbanzo beans, often.

–I would take a look at the specials, but generally I gave these a pass. If I were still hungry, 20 minutes hence, I would go get more lettuce.

–The salad-dressing station. This is where the notion of the Souplantation being good — as well as good for you — took a beating. Especially if you ladled out as much Ranch dressing as I often did. Love my Ranch.

–Then the drinks area. Soft drinks, fruit drinks. I usually went for tap water.

–I generally would put down the plate at an empty table nearby, and go back immediately for a bowl of soup (clam chowder, generally) as well as some starch — almost always focaccia bread.

–After mowing through all that, I might have seconds … but generally I then headed directly for the soft-serve ice cream. Which I love to death. Especially when I have my choice of vanilla or chocolate. I usually made two visits there, and I’m not too proud to concede it sometimes was three.

Souplantation had nearly all my favorite stuff at one location, and if I were careful with the Ranch and avoided the chowder … well, I like to tell myself it wasn’t all that bad for me. Had to be better than fast food, didn’t it?

I will not get a chance to go back and calculate how many calories I blew through when I was in a Souplantation, because last month the company declared bankruptcy and shuttered 97 outlets (44 of them in California).

After 42 years, the Plantation was gone, a victim of coronavirus hygiene concerns, and the possibility of passing on the infection in the less-than-perfect presentation that is buffet dining.

There were sneeze guards above all the dishes, but people were handling the same serving utensils, and that is not going to work well, any time soon.

Souplantation, gone. And me not there to wish it adieu.


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