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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Habit Burger Founder Grills Up New Concept

After three decades of building Habit Burger Grill from one cafe in the tiny coastal city of Goleta into a regional restaurant chain, founder Brent Reichard has gone upscale. His latest company, Hook Burger LLC, based in Santa Barbara, opened its newest location in late October at the Woodland Hills Shopping Center across the street from the Westfield Promenade. Reichard said after selling 80 percent of the Habit a little over five years ago, he wanted to create a fast-casual burger concept, but not a direct competitor with the Habit. “I created a new burger concept that was a step up from the Habit. (It’s) at a higher price point but still reasonably priced, with wine, and still in the fast-casual segment,” he said. Hook burgers range from $5.25 to $6.75 with ingredients such as caramelized bourbon onions and fresh pineapple salsa. Prices at the Habit range from $2.95 for a simple Charburger (mayonnaise, pickle, tomato, lettuce and caramelized onions on a toasted bun) to $4.45 for a mushroom Swiss Charburger. Reichard names Denver-based Smashburger Master LLC and Five Guys Enterprises LLC in Lorton, Va., as competitors because of similar price points. Hook Burger currently has four restaurants, including one in Burbank, that are all company owned, with general managers at each location acting as a managing partner. Reichard, who described himself as more of an entrepreneur than a corporate executive – his business card even reads “chief burger flipper” – said Hook aims to have a more upscale setting than the Habit, with an emphasis on locally sourced food, such as bread from Wildflour Bakery & Café in Agoura Hills. Reclaimed wood is used for interior construction. Reichard and his brother Bruce started the Habit chain by purchasing a burger place for $30,000. Now, over three decades later, Reichard estimates each Hook Burger restaurant requires an investment between $600,000 and $700,000. Next year, the chain plans to open a restaurant in Westlake Village on Ladero Canyon Road., and another possibly in Glendale. But for now, Reichard said he is very happy with the 6201 Topanga Canyon Blvd. site. “I think it’s going to be one of our best locations,” he said. Chalet Fashion Can a New York fashionista turn around Sport Chalet Inc.? The upscale La Cañada Flintridge-based sports retailer has never really recovered from the recession and recently announced it is looking at options such as strategic partners, investors alliances or joint ventures. Now, the company is adding Miki Berardelli, chief marketing officer for New York fashion retailer Tory Burch LLC, to its board. It’s a decision that indicates the company may revamp its marketing strategies to appeal to a wider demographic. Berardelli did not return repeated calls for comment, but Sport Chalet Chief Executive Craig Levra said Berardelli’s digital marketing expertise was important. “No one doubts her ability to think strategically, to understand engagement between a retailer and customer – whether it’s in store or online – and how to leverage that engagement for positive results,” Levra said. Berardelli, who has 20 years of marketing experience, has been chief marketing officer at Tory Burch since 2009. While there she implemented an aggressive digital sales strategy that has helped turn the company into the one of the hottest female fashion retailers in the world. Prior to joining Tory Burch, she worked for Ralph Lauren Corp., and she currently sits as board chair at Shop.org, the digital arm for the National Retail Federation. This is where Levra said he first became acquainted with her work. The chief executive hopes that she will have some tips on how to improve the company’s Action Pass, which is a membership card that gives special and other offers to holders. Levra estimates 2.25 million members currently hold the company’s membership card. “From a customer standpoint, it’s a profitable program,” he said. “Fortunately, we get to capture a lot of data on how customers behave.” Levra said Sport Chalet’s board wasn’t concerned about her lack of sports retail experience. “Miki is a recognized leader (through) her ability to lead, understand and influence human behavior. Product types are less important than overall experience. The bigger issue is overall engagement case and how we talk to athletes and customers,” he said Staff Reporter Jacquelinne Mejia can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or jmejia@sfvbj.com.

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