Today, executives at Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners of Boca Raton, celebrated the grand opening of the newest Sweet Tomatoes location in West Palm Beach. The West Palm Beach restaurant, located at 1900 West Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., is the 99th restaurant in the chain and the first operated under the Sweet Tomatoes brand to feature a new prototype design. West Palm Beach was one of three markets selected as a launch site for the prototype design.

The West Palm Beach location is roughly 7,000 square feet and can accommodate approximately 240 guests. The new design offers a “contemporary farmer’s market” look, with a mixture of authentic and new, earthy and industrial. The exterior was designed with rich earth tones to evoke a farmhouse feeling while the entry façade mixes raw materials such as wood, cement and stone with anodized aluminum accents. The inside has an exposed ceiling, dropped lighting creating an urban like feel, and high, barn-like windows to bring in natural light.

“We are very excited to introduce the prototype in West Palm Beach,” said Michael Mack, chief executive officer of Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., the parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes. “Florida is one our most important markets. In 2005, the 18 restaurants in the state generated over $47.4 million in sales and served more than 5.8 million guests. We also employ over 1,000 people.

“West Palm Beach was a natural choice for an introduction of the prototype restaurant and we look forward to continuing to be active, both economically and through community outreach.”

In a unique approach to restaurant design, company executives relied heavily on input from employees and feedback from guests to enhance the new look of Sweet Tomatoes, and its guest service as well. An architectural firm was consulted to translate the recommendations into a workable plan.

“As we started this process of developing the prototype, there were two things that were important to us,” said Mack. “The first was to ensure our new look was consistent with the fresh, wholesome ingredients that have kept guests returning to our restaurants for almost 30 years. The second was to ensure we used guest feedback, and the expertise of our employees who serve them, to make a great restaurant concept even better.”

For nearly 30 years, the focus of Sweet Tomatoes restaurants has been on the 55-foot long salad bars. In the new restaurants, the atmosphere is more closely linked to the ingredients and brand ideology – fresh, colorful, balanced and filled with choice and possibility.

To highlight the transition from front door to dining room and create anticipation, guests will be welcomed into an entry galley with a staffed greeting stand and a descriptive menu board showcasing the all-inclusive menu items. An exposition kitchen and bakery will showcase staff preparing made-from-scratch menu items. The salad bar will continue to showcase selections in a loose farmer’s market style, and will now boast a “to go” lane making it extremely convenient for guests to enjoy meals at the office or at home. Promotional messages including menu specials and nutrition information will be integrated into life-size artwork.

On the guest service front, the newly configured dining room will immerse guests in the Sweet Tomatoes experience. Several food bars are now designed for easy two-way access to food and beverages and to enhance the flow. The ambiance of the dining room will elevate the overall guest experience and reinforce the price and value equation for cost-conscious diners in search of foods at affordable prices.

News, Sweet Tomatoes