If you know about The Habit Burger Grill, then you know all about their famous Charburger, the mouth-watering Tempura Green Beans and the decadent shakes (just to name a few items off their menu that I love). The California-native restaurant recently opened up it’s 5th Washington location in Tacoma’s West End neighborhood, on North Pearl and North 26th Streets.
If you have never had the chance to try out Habit, you are running out of excuses as they continue their Pacific Northwest expansion! In addition to their newest home in Tacoma, you can try out their delicious Charburgers in Kent, Tukwila, Silverdale and Shoreline! And soon, they will have two new restaurants opening, one in Issaquah and one in Ballard – so stay tuned!
And as my Idaho readers may already know – you have your own Habit Burger in Meridian and another opening soon in Twin Falls!
My husband and I have been Habit fans since they opened the Kent location in 2015 (you can read more about that here). We love the quality, dependability and consistency of the food that the Habit delivers and the staff has always been incredibly friendly and helpful. We have never had a bad experience and that’s what keeps us coming back for more! Ask yourself, how often does your food look like the photo from the menu? At the Habit – it always does!
As you can see, my husband and I were excited to sit down with the Tacoma location franchise owner, AJ Jafrey, the restaurant manager, Sarah, the Habit Director of Operations, Tauseef, and John Phillips, Habit’s VP of Franchising to learn more about the people behind the delicious menu!
Tell us about how you chose restaurant locations like this one in Tacoma?
AJ: The Habit Burger Grill likes choosing locations in communities that are more family/household-oriented. The decor, the environment, the culture of the company is targeted towards family audiences. Unlike other burger restaurants, Habit Burger has a more 50/50 male-female ratio, where as other burger concepts are more inclined to men. In addition to burgers, the menu features many different types of salads and sandwiches, including the new Super Food Salad for the healthier crowd. This new salad has kale, quinoa and a nice pesto dressing. So why Tacoma? Tacoma for that very reason – we had so many families inquire us about when we would open a location here, so we decided the next step would be to open in this neighborhood.
What brought you to the Habit?
Sarah: I was 19 when I joined the Habit and I was looking for a part time job so I could move out of my parent’s place. I started as a cashier and it was one of my first major jobs. Two months later, my district manager told me to go into our “MIT Program,” which is our Manager-In-Training Program. This was all back in California. I did three weeks in a drive-thru location in Visalia and then I finished my three weeks of manager training in Fresno, opened a few locations down there, graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree while I worked through Habit as a manager and decided I needed to expand my horizons and move to Washington. There is a lot of opportunity and growth and I had the knowledge to spread so I made the leap of faith! They took that leap of faith with me as well and I came up here, worked in Kent for a little bit, helped open the Tukwila location, worked in the Silverdale location and now I am here opening the Tacoma location!
Tauseef: I was originally living in Irvine, and that’s how we discovered the Habit. One day we just decided to stop by and try it out. We didn’t really go in with a business perspective, just as customers and we fell in love with the concept from day one. At the time, we were with a couple other concepts in the industry and we went to Habit’s website and noticed they didn’t have much in regards to franchising. We reached out to the brand as we were really interested in being a part of the Habit family and opening up our own. One thing led to another, we got the conversation started and here we are today, a couple years later at the Tacoma location! We are pretty excited about that.
John: I am actually with Habit, so I’ll talk a little bit about what they discussed. We look for partners and people who love the brand, people who we can relate to and think we can develop a great partnership with. It was a long courtship talking about things and getting them done. With the experience they had within the food industry and the fact that they were great fans of the brand led us to where we are today. We are now located in five counties in Washington.
What has it been like expanding into the Northwest from California?
AJ: It’s definitely been a good experience. I was born and raised in Orange County and I now live in Redmond. Coming up here was definitely a weather adjustment. The brand has been well received by locals and we thank God and everyone that has welcomed us. We have had so many people already thank us for opening this location in Tacoma. Those types of things really drive it home for us and help us continue expanding to other neighborhoods.
Do you drive home the dependability and consistency of the product?
Tauseef: That’s what we like to call the Habit difference. It’s the people. It starts off with who we hire and we pay a lot of attention to hiring personalities and not necessarily the experience – we can always teach the experience. When you visit the stores, the first thing you notice is the cashier and the service you get, you know they will go out of their way to take care of you. The second thing, we place a lot of importance on the training. Each person works through each position and get certified as they go along. They have an incentive and want to learn more. Every time you come into the store when the shift is running, each person working is certified in that position. It’s the same standard for training, no matter which store you go to. One Habit, One Family.
Sarah: No matter which Habit you go to work at, every aspect will be identical.
Habit is always very involved in the community, for example you partnered with the USO Northwest and Nourish Pierce County for the opening of this store. Can you tell us a little about that?
Sarah: I can talk a little about that, I just came from the Silverdale store and in a single month, we can do up to six or seven fundraisers for charities. Whether it’s the USO or the local kids soccer club, elementary schools or the local PTA’s – it’s really fun reaching out to the communities because you get to know them. You get to know the families coming in and you get to meet the kids. The team thrives on it too, you know we talk about the Habit difference, the cashiers love it and say, “Oh something exciting is happening today! Who are we going to make smile today?” Reaching out to charities, even people who don’t know it’s going on, they come in and see it and they see Habit is really connecting and setting roots in the community. People take a lot of pride in here. In the fall, we also partner with No Kids Hungry, which is another big event we thrive on. Every store competes on how many tickets they can get sold, we have donations and it’s just so much fun.
Do you have a favorite meal here?
AJ: My personal favorite is the tri-tip on our French roll.
Sarah: As a cashier, our regular meals are the Charburgers. As a manager, we get to have more variety and I was so excited to try out the other items. Now that I have been with the company for almost six years, I stick to burgers almost every day. Every once in awhile, I’ll go for the ahi, but anything that’s a burger with some avocado, it’s all I need.
Tauseef: I usually prefer having the Portabella Char, other than that the tri-tip or our salads and sandwiches.
John: Well on the burger side, the Double Char with bacon is my go-to sandwich and a lot of times, I will eat that with the lettuce wrap versus the bun. I also love the ahi and will put that on my salads instead of chicken, like the Cobb and the Super Food.
I want to thank the Habit team for meeting with my husband and I and learn more about the people behind the food we have come to enjoy so much! Tacoma, it’s your turn to check out the Habit!
The Habit Burger Grill
2601 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA 98407
Ph. (253) 759-3116
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:30 am-10:00 pm
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received two free Habit meals for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.