The only two Sweet Tomatoes restaurants in the Jacksonville area were abruptly closed Tuesday as part of a broader company restructuring.
Rick Van Warner, spokesman for Garden Fresh Restaurants Inc., which owns Sweet Tomatoes, said the company is in the process of closing 20 to 30 locations nationwide. After being open since 1999, the Sweet Tomatoes location on Mary Susan Drive in the Regency area and on Wells Road in Orange Park were shut down.
“It really is no reflection on the teams or the best efforts of the employees there, really. It was strictly a business decision that was part of an overall company restructuring that’s taking place,” Van Warner said.
After the restructuring, Van Warner said, the company will still have about 100 locations that will remain open, some with the name Soup Plantation, which operate mainly in the western U.S. near where Garden Fresh is headquartered in San Diego, Calif.
Between the two First Coast locations, 57 workers were put out of work in the shuttering of the Sweet Tomatoes, Van Warner said. Most of those were part-time hourly employees.
The Sweet Tomatoes on the First Coast just never really established a foothold, he said.
“It was more of an outlying market and was just one that, despite the best efforts of those teams, had not had a strong performance for some time,” Van Warner said.