Sweet Tomatoes has been around for years and there are eight in Florida. Here’s what the chain restaurant is doing to keep loyal customers happy and others curious. Also, keep reading for a sweet recipe.

Did you know Sweet Tomatoes has been around since the 1970s? Out of 97 locations nationwide, Florida has eight.
 
If you’re a regular, you may know some of this information but keep reading because, as you know, the restaurant is always switching things up: from the red velvet lava cake with cream cheese topping made in-house that launched through Valentine’s Day to the brussel sprouts coming soon to a location near you.
 
Sweet Tomatoes customers don’t play. They show up at the same time every week. Go straight to their favorites. And when a staple soup like Cream of Mushroom is missing from the bar, they boycott, the manager at Palm Beach Lakes location said.
 
Soup staples include the big chunk chicken noodle and the deep kettle house chili that pairs perfectly with cornbread and honey-whipped butter. The Southeastern locations always have a customer favorite on deck: Yankee clipper clam chowder with bacon.
 
Angeline Nava, store manager at Sweet Tomatoes West Palm Beach says, “People come in just for that and send their friends, too.”
 
Check this out: 7 best places to get a pie that isn’t a pizzeria
 
Seniors love the Monday to Friday lunch special: All you can eat with unlimited beverages for $8.29 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
 
Speaking of unlimited beverages, some customers get creative. They’re not just headed for the restaurant’s homemade strawberry lemonade. They’re grabbing milk from the coffee bar, ice cream from the dessert bar and sundae toppings — putting together entire milkshakes.

 
Sweet Tomatoes Soft Serve Cookie Milkshake
 
1 cup of milk (Not literally. Just some milk.)
 
½ Half cup of Soft Serve
 
2 Scoops of Cookie Crumble Topping
 
Mix, grab a straw and enjoy.

So, what’s coming to your nearest Sweet Tomatoes? Some rebranding. Not the logo or the in-house decor. Different foods.
 
While Sweet Tomatoes is known for the salad bar and soups, they’ve also serve up pastas and lots of breads. But the company is moving toward replacing the pasta bars with something more health conscious. Inside scoop: That pasta will be replaced with something that can help customers make better choices when it comes to their diet.
 
The restaurant chain’s efforts to replace the pasta bar were inspired by the fact that the functional food market is projected to reach more than $440 billion by 2022 with Millennials serving as one of the main driving factors behind the trend. So Sweet Tomatoes is headed in the salad direction with ingredients like kale, edamame and cranberries.
 
West Palm Beach regular, Eddie Rubano, says he starts at the salad bar. “I like a lot of stuff in my salad and most times, the ingredients are fresh. They always come out good.”
 
Rubano usually pairs his salad with a soup and never leaves without dessert.
 
“I try not to keep all that sweet stuff at home so I come here and treat myself every once and awhile,” he said during a conversation at the restaurant on Friday, Feb. 15.
 
Rubano’s not lying about the ingredients being fresh. Each Florida restaurant has a central location in a nearby city where fruits and vegetables are mass-cut then delivered fresh every morning. For example, the West Palm location gets their fresh cucumbers hand-delivered from Boca.
 
Sweet Tomatoes may have rotating menu items and be making some changes in 2019, but a classic is a classic. Pauline Young, a West Palm Beach employee for 12 years said, “There’s always lots of changes and turnover, but that’s not a bad thing because when things change here, it’s for the better.”
 
Find a Sweet Tomatoes or Souplantation location near you.
 

Tip: If you visit for the first time and feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the options, opt for one of the “Build Your Own” menus located somewhere on their 50-foot long salad bar. You’ll find a vegan guide, Mediterranean guide or southwest guide with meal ideas and ingredients just for your mood or dietary restrictions. Think of these guides as templates.
 
Reasons to go: For a quick, packed salad at a reasonable price. Because, why buy all of the vegetables when sometimes you just don't feel like cutting them up?
 
Corvaya Jeffries is the digital strategist for GateHouse Media Group's Florida team, based in West Palm Beach, Fla. Corvaya's stories, which run across digital, print and video platforms, are syndicated across the 22 Florida newspaper markets.