- January 5, 2017
It seems as though each day brings about news of a new restaurant coming to Winter Park.
With a planned Oct. 11 opening date, the West Coast’s own Habit Burger Grill hopes to find a home in the Winter Park area.
The new burger joint will be the ninth in the state, following the opening of a restaurant in Pembroke Pines. Orlando’s first Habit Burger Grill opened last December on Millenia Plaza Way. A second Orlando location will open on South Orange Avenue.
The Winter Park location will be at 1040 N. Orlando Ave., and the overall process is being overseen by Tony Warren, vice president of operations for the East Coast.
“The goal isn’t to grow the fastest or build the biggest; it’s literally take it one burger at a time. When we come into a community our goal is to grow and help give back to the community through fundraising and different activities. …”
— Tony Warren
“I moved out here from California about two years ago to head up the growth in Florida,” Warren said. “We are growing so quickly that we also recently expanded to take over the East Coast.”
Habit Burger Grill originally started in 1969, in Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded through 11 states — from California to Pennsylvania. The restaurant even has a location overseas in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
By the end of the year, Warren expects Habit Burger Grill to expand to 200 locations.
Picking locations requires examining many different aspects, ranging from traffic counts to how other fast food-type places perform in the area.
“We look at different areas, and then we also look at how soon we can get them open,” Warren said. “Say we may want to go into Tampa, but we have an opportunity in Orlando first, then we are going to go there first just to continue our growth. We know over time, once we open a location, we’ll build a business one burger at a time.”
Warren also noted the eatery’s Winter Park location is an up-and-coming part of the community. The location is part of a development that features Whole Foods and other businesses — including another new restaurant, Café Rio Mexican Grill.
The menu for the restaurant centers on the multiple varieties of charburgers with six different styles — including the standard charburger to the roasted garlic portabella char. The signature burger is the Santa Barbara Char — a double char with cheese and avocado on grilled sourdough.
Although the burgers are the restaurant’s specialty, Habit Burger Grill also offers a variety of other options.
“Sixty percent of our sales are burgers, and then the other 40% is composed of other things, and that’s what makes us so different,” Warren said. “For instance we have fresh chicken breast, sandwiches, salads, tri-tips, and we have an albacore tuna that is sushi grade — we fly everything in fresh from Fiji a couple of times a week.”
Every six to eight weeks, Habit Burger Grill offers limited-time items, bringing in different types of salads, chilies and other foods.
Locals will get their first taste of what Habit Burger Grill has to offer starting the week before it opens. The restaurant will offer free events — including free burgers for the first 200 people one day, and then charity events where all the money made will go back to community charities.
“The goal isn’t to grow the fastest or build the biggest; it’s literally take it one burger at a time,” Warren said. “When we come into a community, our goal is to grow and help give back to the community through fundraising and different activities. Over time, we feel like that will generate sales and be healthy for both ourselves and the community, while providing jobs and opportunities.”