Buffet restaurant chain Souplantation closing for good due to coronavirus
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Souplantation, a buffet-style chain based in San Diego, is permanently closing all of its locations due to new coronavirus guidelines for restaurants.

John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh, the parent company of Souplantation, said Thursday that the decision to close the chain’s 97 locations was reached after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised restaurants to halt the use of self-serving stations, specifically salad bars and buffets.

The FDA guidelines would make “it very difficult to reopen,” Haywood told media outlets, since Souplantation’s business is based on a buffet-style model.

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“And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it,” he added. “We could’ve overcome any other obstacle, and we’ve worked for eight weeks to overcome these intermittent financial challenges but it doesn’t work if we are not allowed to continue our model.”

FDA guidelines emphasize social distancing and pickup or delivery services to reduce the spread of the virus.

Souplantation has 4,400 employees across Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington.

Roughly 8 million restaurant workers in the U.S., or 66 percent of the industry’s workforce, have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Most restaurants have either permanently closed or offered curbside pickup and delivery.