What is in this article?:
- Habit Burger tweaks typical burger lineup
- Fast casual and customization
Habit Burger boasts a diverse menu that includes entrée salads, an albacore tuna sandwich, a pastrami and Swiss cheese sandwich, and a tri-tip steak sandwich.
Adam Baird, vice president of food, beverage and procurement at The Habit Burger Grill, is developing dishes not typically found on burger-joint menus.
In July, Baird left his position as corporate at Mimi’s Café to join his former boss, Russ Bendel, at Habit Burger, a 70-unit fast-casual chain based in Irvine, Calif. Bendel, who is president and CEO at Habit Burger, had previously been Mimi’s chief executive.
Baird hails from Melbourne, Australia, and studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He has previously worked as a sous chef at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, Calif., and as executive sous chef at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the CIA’s St. Helena, Calif., campus. He also was concept/operations development executive chef for the opening of Walt Disney Resorts International’s Grand Californian Hotel and Napa Rose restaurant in Anaheim, Calif.
At Habit Burger, Baird serves a diverse menu that includes entrée salads, an albacore tuna sandwich, a pastrami and Swiss cheese sandwich, and a tri-tip steak sandwich featuring a triangular steak cut popular in southern California.
Baird discussed the menu’s evolution with Nation’s Restaurant News.
What new menu items are you working on for Habit Burger?
We introduced some new tea, but the next thing we’re launching is a shrimp burger, on March 6. We’re using whole shrimp pressed into a patty and charbroiled — like everything we do — which makes it kind of a unique flavor. It’s glazed with ginger teriyaki, grilled pineapple, lettuce and tomatoes, and homemade tartar sauce, and served on a whole wheat bun for $6.95, which makes it a premium item for us.
Will that be a permanent item?
No. We’ll be running it for a couple of months and then adding other items on our promotional calendar. When we tested it, it actually traded out of burgers [i.e. customers bought it instead of hamburgers]. Sales of the albacore [tuna sandwich] only went down a little bit. We liked that it wasn’t just cannibalizing our one other seafood offering. Also, sales of it grew each week.
What will you test next?
Right now we’re testing a Waldorfsalad with walnuts, blue cheese, bacon, diced tomatoes, mixed greens and balsamic-glazed chicken. We’ll probably roll it out in the summer.
Our most popular salad now is the Santa Barbara Cobb, which is a Cobb with avocado on top.
Then toward the fall we’re going to introduce a blue cheese burger, with a secret-spiced blue [cheese] sauce with pickled jalapeño and bacon. It’s a nice burger — a heartier kind of sandwich.
We’re also testing a roasted garlic herb [French] fry tossed in roasted garlic butter with a spice blend.
When will you introduced the fries?
We’re not sure we’re going to launch that.
We’re also working on more of a gourmet grilled cheese. It’s a Parmesan-crusted three-cheese sandwich.
How do you crust a sandwich with Parmesan?
We’re brushing the sourdough [bread] with butter, putting Parmesan on top of that and then grilling it.