YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

storewanderer
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by storewanderer »

Went to a Habit today, first time since YUM purchase, and first time since COVID.

Went into what is a fairly new freestanding location with drive through and though it was dinner, was the only customer in the place. There were 3 customer groups sitting outside at tables. The drive through seemed to have a steady few cars. There was a Del Taco in the same parking lot and it seemed to be busier than Habit (sad to see). The In N Out across the street had many dozens of customers inside, outside, and at the drive through.

Habit has removed the self order kiosks and coned off the drink bar so drinks are employee serve but the employee has to come out from behind the counter to fill the drinks. Every other table was marked as closed. This location is 4x larger than a typical strip mall Habit and very spacious inside. There is a large communal 16 seat type table and at that table they had every other seat marked as closed (still wasn't a six foot distance...). I was actually comfortable with the idea of eating inside this place (since it was deserted).

Order came out within 5-6 minutes and everything was excellent. Employees were friendly, in clean uniforms, all of the food temperatures were perfect, etc. Cannot see any influence of YUM yet in this operation.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by J-Man »

storewanderer wrote: October 11th, 2020, 11:44 pm Cannot see any influence of YUM yet in this operation.
Have they switched from Coke to Pepsi?
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by storewanderer »

J-Man wrote: October 12th, 2020, 9:35 am
storewanderer wrote: October 11th, 2020, 11:44 pm Cannot see any influence of YUM yet in this operation.
Have they switched from Coke to Pepsi?
Nope, still Coke products and Boyd's on the brewed Iced Tea.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by storewanderer »

Has a Habit location ever gone out of business?

The one in Sparks, NV was closed last weekend but didn't have any unusual signs posted it simply wasn't open during the posted hours, supposedly opened a couple days this week, today it was closed again with a cryptic "STORE CLOSED" sign in the window. This opened as a corporate Habit, but was not run like the CA ones are run. Prices at present are higher than the corporate Sacramento locations making me think it may have gotten franchised.

In other Habit news, the 8 Santa Barbara County Habit locations were excluded from the YUM transaction and remained with the Habit founders. www.sbhabit.com . They are retiring and sold the units to YUM, and YUM assumes operations on March 1.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by Alpha8472 »

The 3 Orlando locations closed due to not performing as well as their other 263 locations in August 2019.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by ClownLoach »

storewanderer wrote: January 16th, 2022, 1:13 am Has a Habit location ever gone out of business?

The one in Sparks, NV was closed last weekend but didn't have any unusual signs posted it simply wasn't open during the posted hours, supposedly opened a couple days this week, today it was closed again with a cryptic "STORE CLOSED" sign in the window. This opened as a corporate Habit, but was not run like the CA ones are run. Prices at present are higher than the corporate Sacramento locations making me think it may have gotten franchised.

In other Habit news, the 8 Santa Barbara County Habit locations were excluded from the YUM transaction and remained with the Habit founders. www.sbhabit.com . They are retiring and sold the units to YUM, and YUM assumes operations on March 1.
The founders started a competing chain, The Hook burgers which is up in Santa Barbara and Ventura County area plus one by the Topanga mall. I thought they had completely divested when they opened Hook - which opened well before Yum Brands came into the picture.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by storewanderer »

ClownLoach wrote: January 17th, 2022, 9:25 am

The founders started a competing chain, The Hook burgers which is up in Santa Barbara and Ventura County area plus one by the Topanga mall. I thought they had completely divested when they opened Hook - which opened well before Yum Brands came into the picture.
Hook looks really good...

Waiting to see if this Sparks Habit opens back up or what. It has been pretty terrible since it opened. Unkempt surly staff, frequent burgers full of pink in the middle (even when I asked for well done... twice), slow service, dirty, this place doesn't seem like a Habit at all. The sad part is it is the nicest looking Habit I've ever seen. Habit was supposed to open another corporate location in Reno but passed and the site ended up becoming a Sonic (ugh...).

There are two other Habits in the area that are not corporate sites and non-traditional locations; one is in the University which is interesting but they seem to get the burger right (the sides they serve are not even Habit food and they give you a can of soda in a combo meal instead of a refillable cup- but if you order burger and drink only then you get a refillable cup), the other is in a casino and run by the casino and got off to an interesting start (they literally had to type in by hand on a keyboard any customizations into the register if you wanted no lettuce, add cheese, etc.). The casino closed its buffet and added this food court in and seemed to keep the buffet cash registers (purchases initially came back as Circus Buffet on my credit card), but food and service-wise, though pricing is high, it has come around and does a good job.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by buckguy »

It seems a little late for YUM to be getting into the fancy hamburger segment. Many chains have closed and just a few seem to be holding on.

Habit's east coast locations seem a bit random--for example, one is near a dying mall in suburban DC and a short distance away in Rockville in a location that is neither part of a struggling "town center" nor the much healthier Rockville Pike corridor to its south. They're also in an upscale development near University of Maryland in an area without a big upscale population. Most likely they had a big push that was stopped along the way and wasn't getting into prime locations.
Last edited by buckguy on January 20th, 2022, 6:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by ClownLoach »

I ate at the family owned originals in Santa Barbara before they expanded and there is no comparison. The quality was outstanding, burgers perfectly juicy and well seasoned. The secret was they started the cook on a wood fire grill "Santa Maria Style" then finished on a flat top to sear in the juices. It was a best of both worlds type situation. I do not believe any of these newer franchised locations have the same cooking technique. Some do have open flame gas grills but not the same

I have noticed they are aggressively targeting closed Burger King locations though - wonder if they are able to use the grandfathered in permits allowing them to char broil despite all the smoke it puts out? Their strip mall locations that are not cooking over open flame are basically a overpriced McDonald's or Jack in the Box burger - dry and overcooked.
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Re: YUM Brands to acquire Habit Burger

Post by storewanderer »

ClownLoach wrote: January 19th, 2022, 12:25 pm I ate at the family owned originals in Santa Barbara before they expanded and there is no comparison. The quality was outstanding, burgers perfectly juicy and well seasoned. The secret was they started the cook on a wood fire grill "Santa Maria Style" then finished on a flat top to sear in the juices. It was a best of both worlds type situation. I do not believe any of these newer franchised locations have the same cooking technique. Some do have open flame gas grills but not the same

I have noticed they are aggressively targeting closed Burger King locations though - wonder if they are able to use the grandfathered in permits allowing them to char broil despite all the smoke it puts out? Their strip mall locations that are not cooking over open flame are basically a overpriced McDonald's or Jack in the Box burger - dry and overcooked.
The Habits I've been to seem to just have the open flame gas grills.

In Reno, McDonalds units run 4.99-5.99 for a Big Mac (similar for a 1/4lb) and the Sparks Habit runs 4.69 for their Charburger. When Sparks Habit opened a few years ago, they had it priced with the ID/UT units and the Charburger was around 3.45. Now they have it with higher prices than Sacramento units (4.29 for a Charburger in Folsom/Rancho Cordova... 4.49 in Roseville/Citrus Heights). Wendys runs the Single around 5.19 in Reno but in Sacramento/Fresno the Wendys franchisee is charging 7.25 for a Single (not sure what is up with that franchisee...). So I don't really consider Habit to be overpriced... relative to the competition. The difference is there is no combo meal discount at Habit and little in the way of couponing. But a burger+drink at Habit comes out around $8 after tax which isn't too out of line; if you drink the tea or nectar it is a higher quality drink/worth more than a soda elsewhere.

Looking further at Habit pricing, it appears what is happening is they have higher prices at the new/freestanding locations with drive through, than they have at the smaller strip mall locations. Given those smaller strip mall locations often had lines out the door I think they were doing a lot of sales volume in a small space. These larger new freestanding locations do not seem to have nearly as many customers and clearly cost a lot more to run. This makes me wonder if attempts to scale Habit up into a fast food chain more like other burger chains (with large drive through freestanding units) is the way to go or the old Habit model of small strip mall units with a decent sized outdoor dining patio was better/more productive. I think Panda Express has also struggled to some degree trying to find the balance on how to approach the freestanding/drive through vs. small strip mall unit thing.

I noticed a Habit moving into a Burger King building in Marysville, CA. It does not strike me as a Habit type of location. Not clear if this is corporate or franchise unit. It will be interesting to see how it does. Habit built a corporate unit from scratch including a drive through about 5 miles away in Yuba City (very nice unit) a few years ago, so I guess the numbers look good enough to justify the opening in Marysville.

I don't think former Burger King units are a good fit for the Habit brand. These locations will bring down the brand.
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