My beloved Souplantation, a citadel of nutrition and communal comfort eating, is no more. The self-serve cafeteria chain, which launched in San Diego in 1978, has been killed by COVID-19, or by an FDA regulation that says communal salad and soup bars are too dangerous in the current environment.

I began eating at my favorite Souplantations (11911 San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood, the other at 100 No. La Cienega Blvd. or inside the Beverly Grove complex) sometime in the early ’90s. Those salads, soups, blueberry muffins and pasta bowls, and especially the soft ice cream covered with chopped nuts and chocolate syrup!

In the summer of ’97 (or was it’ 98?) O.J. Simpson and two or three pallies strolled into the Brentwood location, where I also happened to be. Scooped up vittles, sat and joked and smiled. Everyone did a reasonably good job of pretending they weren’t thinking what they were thinking. Quite the moment.

Over the last decade or so my Souplantation visits were less frequent. Maybe two or three times a year, if that. But it was nice knowing I could go there almost any time and not have to spend much for a nice healthy salad and a tall glass of lemonade, etc. I’m very, very sorry that this beloved chain is dead and buried.