Habit Burger is one of the fastest growing fast food chains in America. The burger chain began as a small family business in Santa Barbara in 1969 as the dream of two enterprising brothers, Brent and Bruce Reichard. They wanted to create a unique concept burger joint using a char broiled technique instead of frying. The brothers wanted their family friendly fast food casual restaurant to reflect the vibes of their hometown of Santa Barbara's Goleta Beach offering a great burger for a great price. The brothers also wanted to create healthy options and reflect Southern California cuisine. Ahead of their time, Brent and Bruce Reichard set out to use locally sourced fresh food and create a menu that would appeal to many. Habit Burger quickly became popular and expanded through southern California. After a few decades of being a southern California staple, the company expanded across the country and even internationally. The Reichard brothers remain the owners of several of Habit Burger's southern Californian locations as well as the original Goleta Beach location. Yum!Brands purchased the rest of the company last year and hope to expand with over 2000 locations across America and internationally. Although Habit Burger has been around for 5 decades, it will soon reach many that have never heard of it.
1. 1969, Santa Barbara, California
Brent Reichard was working at a burger shack on Goleta Beach in Santa Barbara, California when he and his brother Bruce thought of buying the place and creating a better burger. The enterprising Reichard brothers borrowed money from their mom to buy the place and created a unique and popular beach restaurant. The Habit Burger Grill was born. . The Reichard brothers' mission was to make a great burger at a great price and to create a habit among beach goers of grabbing a bite at their grill.
2. Charbroiled Burgers
The Reichard brothers specialized in charbroiled burgers at The Habit Burger Grill. The burgers are perfectly seasoned. They are not fried. They are made in a stainless steel char broiler with a cast iron grill insert. Instead of fatty unhealthy burgers, these were and continue to be healthier and better tasting. Served hot and juicy, Habit Burger's charbroil process sears the smoky flavors and creates a delicious hamburger. Fresh bread is grilled along with the burgers to create a delicious, warm and toasty bun.
3. Inspired by California Beach Cuisine
The Habit Burger Grill's menu is inspired by California beach cuisine. The Reichard brothers would soon add chicken sandwiches with avocado and bacon and Ahi tuna sandwiches to their list of options. They also served fresh made to order salads and frozen treats like ice cream cones and milk shakes. The Reicbard brothers' vision was to create a family friendly fast food and casual restaurant that would make you feel like you were eating at the beach in southern California.
4. Fresh Ingredients
Unlike other fast food restaurants at the time, The Habit Burger Grill focused on using fresh ingredients, and Habit Burger continues to do so today. Originally the Reichard brothers purchased freshly baked bread from a local bakery. Today the bread used as buns for burgers and sandwiches is baked daily in the store. The Reichard brothers used fresh ingredients sourced locally in southern California. Beef and vegetables were all locally sourced. Tomatoes were perfectly ripe, and lettuce was crisp and leafy. Habit Burgers continues this tradition. No matter the location, the ingredients used in its menu are fresh and locally sourced.
5. Expansion in Southern California
It didn't take long for Habit Burger to gain popularity. The Reichard brothers soon realized that their idea was a good one, and their little beach restaurant was a success. They opened up more Habit Burgers in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. Soon there were 23 stores in southern California. Despite expanding, selling the business, and franchising stores, the Reichard brothers still own eight Southern California stores today including the original Habit Burger Grill on Goleta Beach.
6. Expansion across the USA
In 2007 the private investment firm of Karpreilly based in Greenwich, Connecticut purchased a majority ownership of Habit Burger. They began expanding the restaurants and franchising Habit Burger across the USA. In 2014 as the chain expanded to Seattle, Washington, Habit Burger was named one of Thrillist's underrated burger chains that need to be in every state. Today there are 275 Habit Burgers in 14 states including California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The most recent addition to the Habit Burger family is located in the Boston metropolitan area in a partnership with Heidi Burgers.
7. Going Public
The year 2012 to 2013 was a big growth year for Habit Burger. The company's sales grew by 40 percent. At the time Habit Burger had 99 stores, most in southern California. But the growth was exciting for Karp Reilly that hoped to go public and sell shares as an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Habit Burger did go public in 2014 under the stock market name HABT. While the company hoped the shares would be worth $14 to $18 initially, they proved to be more valuable and quickly rose to a value of $18 to $30 a share. It seems that the Reichard brothers were ahead of their time. The brothers created a unique fast food, family dining establishment that offered healthy options for patrons. That wasn't the focus of the market in 1969, but in 2014, establishments like Chipotle and Panera were cashing in on the latest trend.
8. International Expansion
In recent years, Habit Burger has expanded internationally. In 2017 Habit Burgers expanded to the United Kingdom. There are now 30 Habit Burgers there. There are currently international Habit Burger restaurants in China, Cambodia, and the United Arab Emerites. In March 2020, Habit Burger was acquired by Yum!Brands. Yum!Brands also owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Wingstreet. Yum!Brands goal is to continue to expand Habit Burger locations both nationally and internationally.
Habit Burger's char broiled burgers are sold as singles or doubles and served with a side and a drink. The Charburger is still sold in every store. Other burger options include the Portabello Charburger, the Teriyaki Charburger which is served with pineapple and caramelized onions, the BBQ Bacon Charburger, and the Santa Barbara Charburger with cheese and avocado served on a grilled sourdough bun. In 2016, Habit Burger introduced the Impossible Burger which is a plant based patty trademarked by Habit Burger. Habit Burger continues its goal to create healthy fast food options.
10. Other Options
Habit Burger has other options as as burgers. Its sandwiches are also char broiled and adorned with fresh toppings. Options include the Chicken Sandwich, the Tenderloin Steak Sandwich, the Ahi Tuna Fillet, the chicken club, and the crispy chicken sandwich. Habit Burger recently added a Chicken Caprese sandwich to its menu. Habit Burger continues to research and incorporate innovative, unique and healthy items on its menu.
11. Salads and Sides
Habit Burger offers fresh salads and sides. Salads include a garden salad, grilled chicken salad, BBQ chicken salad, the Santa Barbara Cobb salad, and a Caesar Salad. You can also add a side salad to your meal. The restaurant also serves a variety of sides. These include French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Onion Rings, Crispy Chicken Bites and Tempura Green Beans.
12. Kids Meals and Dessert
Habit Burger offers a kids menu with smaller sized portions. These include a Charburger, Kids Crispy Chicken Bites, and Grilled Cheese. Kids meals are served with either French fries or applesauce and a kids size drink. Habit Burger also offers made to order cold treats including cones, shakes and sundaes. Habit Burger's offers several gluten and wheat free items on its entire menu. Prices range from $4 to $12.
13. Habit Values
Habit Burger has a list of Habit Values that create a great customer experience and a great working environment. "H" is for Hospitality. "A" is for Attitude. "B" is for Be the Best. "I" is for Integrity. "T" is for Teamwork. These Habit Values are carried abided by in all restaurant locations. The goal of the Reichard brothers was to create a great burger for a great price. The goal was also to create a restaurant that honored its patrons and create a fun, laid back southern California beach atmosphere. Today, Habit Burgers continues to carry on those goals. Employees are casual and friendly while working together to create and sell products that they believe in.
14. Working at Habit Burger
Working at Habit Burger can be a great experience as a part time or full time job or in expanding your career. The company offers a variety of competitive benefits. These include health, eye and dental insurance, short and long term disability, paid vacation, a 401K Retirement Plan, and several referral bonus programs. Working for the company as a cashier, cook or manager can be a fun experience and possibly a growing career. Over half the promotions in the company come within. All employees of Habit Burger are trained to put people first and to respect each other and their customers.
15. "No Kids Hungry" Campaign
Habit Burger has partnered with "No Kids Hungry" for several years. "No Kids Hungry" helps feed children in need. Habit Burger donates money to the cause, providing meals for kids. Habit Burger holds several campaigns for "No Kids Hungry". If a Habit Burger patron wants to round up their payment, the balance is donated to "No Kids Hungry".
16. Catering Trucks
In 2017, Habit Burger launched catering trucks. Originally there were nine food trucks. Each truck has a stainless steel char broiler with a cast iron grill just like the restaurants. This creates the tasty burgers and sandwiches for which Habit Burger is so well known. The truck's cater to a variety of events including weddings, birthdays, company parties, block parties, and community events. Habit Burger catering trucks can be booked at email@example.com.
17. "Best Tasting Burger in America"
In 2014, Consumer Reports Magazine named Habit Burger Best Tasting Burger in America. This survey that resulted in this finding was conducted in 65 chains and included burgers, burritos, chicken, sandwiches and subs. Habit Burger scored the highest in consumer's enjoyment of its Charburger. In N Out Burger came in second place.
Reichard Brothers Enterprises, Inc. continue to own several of the Habit Burger locations in southern California including the original at Goleta Beach in Santa Barbara, California. Brent and Bruce Reichard also own several other companies based in southern California. Yum!Brands owns and manages the rest of the Habit Burger locations. It's headquarters is located in Irvine, California. The CEO is Russel W. Bender. The CFO is Ira Fils.
Habit Burger has aged well over the last 50 years. Not only has it expanded, the restaurant maintains much of its original menu and its values. Its mission remains the same: to create great burgers at a great price. Habit Burger has gone through modernization during its five decade life. Today, the restaurants have a more modern look. The kitchens are open and the booths are wide and comfortable. Habit Burger has embraced modern technology including a state of the art point of sales that helps facilitate more guests.
20. Habit Burger Today
Bruce and Brent Reichard's idea for a new concept in fast food developed into an impressive international business. The brothers' vision of a fast food restaurant that reflected the southern California beach life with char broiled burgers, fresh ingredients and healthy options has become an expanding, successful business. As Habit Burger continues to expand, more Americans will get to enjoy what southern Californians have enjoyed for five decades.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee