Brent Reichard started his first job at age 16 at a burger joint in Goleta, and he never left. At age 20, he and his brother, Bruce Reichard bought the place and 33 years later, the rest is burger history. The two experienced soaring growth, spun off a franchise, sold it and now remain focused on serving their hometown, Santa Barbara, some of the best fast-casual food in the region.
Known for a deliciously fresh charbroiled burger with even fresher toppings (the produce is locally sourced and even the salad dressings are made in house), Brent and Bruce have captured the flavor of California’s coast in a surprisingly iconic way.
But when you get to the heart of the matter, these two have five smart tips for success they are willing to impart.
Go fresh or go home. Everything at The Habit Burger Grill is built on freshness. The produce is local; it’s at peak ripeness and customers can taste that difference. The brothers insist on high quality, fresh ground beef and meats that are humanely raised and antibiotic and hormone free.
- Partner with greatness. For 25 years, the Reichard brothers have partnered with Jordano’s to supply their restaurants with produce, dairy, paper and dry goods. “When we made the move to Sacramento with one of our stores, they stuck with us. They had no trucks going there, but they made a commitment to us and stood by it. The service is incredible and the pricing is fair,” Brent says. “I have an immense respect for the company and Pete Jordano.”
- Know when to sell. As the two were expanding stores and developing the franchise, Brent sensed the growth would go national. In 2007, the franchise opened its 100th store. “Since these stores were spreading outside of Jordano’s reach, the franchise would need to work with a national distributor. I knew I didn’t want to leave Jordano’s, so I broke away from the bigger Habit Burger franchise and maintained our Santa Barbara stores. I decided to focus on growing The Habit here locally and on launching new concepts,” Brent says. Padaro Beach Grill recently opened steps away from the ocean in Carpinteria, and Hook Burger (an upscale version of The Habit) was also developed since selling the franchise.
- Love your community. The love for the community is why the brothers stayed and built their burger empire here. The love extends to organizations where The Habit can do “good” work. They help support great charities that feed children, encourage careers in culinary arts and foodservice and improve the community.
- Keep innovating. Brent admits he didn’t know what he was doing in those early days, but experience has made him wiser and more of an innovator. “We’re pretty good at developing a successful model. Our price points are reasonable and the quick casual segment truly appeals to a larger sector,” Brent says, citing the frequency of the guest is greater – about two to four visits monthly per customer. “Quick casual is the way of the future and as long as the quality is there, it will be a success.”
For more information about The Habit, visit www.habitburger.com or check them out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.