The Clairemont Mesa, San Diego location is where we, as UCSD students, would eat on the cheap, getting our weekly fiber and nutrition needs all in one sitting. A great location for birthday parties and Friday night get-together dinners, our visits were not limited to locals; it served as the go-to all-American diner for intrastate and international exchange students. The unlimited soup and pizza was an effective antidote to a handful of hangovers, but the norm was an even-cheaper-than-dinner Souplantation brunch. This filled in for breakfast and lunch for our undisciplined college-student lifestyle, and occasionally – somehow even dinner was skipped or very light after the engorgement from earlier in the day.
It may be a poor time during Pandemic 2020 to admit this, but many a bout of regular colds and flus were cured by the local food-as-medicine diner. Chicken soup + green onion amirite?
Intermission: California’s Bay Area had a similar establishment called “Fresh Choice” which also permanently closed about 10 years ago. It was a wonderful buffet, with slightly higher-quality foods, but ironically less fresh. Upon visiting it, I was surprised at how SMALL the buffet was… it was nearly half the variety. I think it closed around the time Souplantation opened “Sweet Tomatoes” up in the Bay Area. Family members called me raving about it; I could not muster much enthusiasm given that I visited the San Diego location so much I was nearly sick of it.
Later in life, we moved to the local suburb where another Souplantation graces the community within walking distance. To this day I say “we live down the street from the Souplantation.” I saw my college professor there!
Souplantation gave my unborn and then our newborn child nutrition. Kiddo learned to eat there. We rocked her to sleep in the patio. We just came up with a system where we can set up in the patio, then turns at the buffet line while the other parent plays with the kiddo.
It’s heartbreaking that she won’t have the Souplantation memories I carried for my entire adult life. My Ode To Souplantation is best captured in a group text lamenting the closure with my buffet trio – my ex-roommate and now-wife,: “It is saddening for me think of such a special location, warm and filling, to have its tables and chairs removed, lights turned off, becoming an empty shell of a building.” A place from where so much life came – often with a lengthy line out the door rivalling celebrity chef’s grand openings – has come to an end. So must all things, but none of them come with unlimited pizza.