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Garden Fresh President to Retire at Year-End

President and Chief Financial Officer David Qualls of San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants, said he will retire at the end of 2007 after 22 years with the company.

Garden Fresh is promoting Ken Keane, vice president of marketing, and Greg Keller, senior vice president of operations, to co-presidents to replace Qualls after his retirement. The appointment of co-presidents is a first for Garden Fresh.

During his tenure, Qualls helped as a strategist for the company’s financial transactions and negotiations and its methods of distribution and food preparation. He also helped expand the restaurant chain to 100 locations.

Qualls worked under three chief executive officers, including current Garden Fresh CEO Michael Mack, who referred to him as “an invaluable partner in the development of (the company’s) overall strategy.”

Souplantation, founded in 1978 in San Diego, is a buffet-style chain restaurant specializing in soups and salads. The chain is only known as Souplantation at 34 Southern California locations. Elsewhere, the restaurant is known as Sweet Tomatoes. There are now Garden Fresh restaurants in 15 states across the country.

The San Diego area is home to 10 Souplantation locations, including one of the chain’s newest stores in Chula Vista. The chain’s 100th location opened in May in Phoenix.

, Sam Blanchard

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