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Habit Burger Grill approved
• Conditional use permit OK'd 5-0
Habit Burger Ceres
Approved on Monday are plans to build a new The Habit Burger Grill in the Whitmore Plaza Shopping Center.

An application to bring The Habit Burger Grill to the Whitmore Plaza Shopping Center was approved Monday evening in a unanimous vote of the Ceres Planning Commission.

Angel Speed 3 LP won approval for a conditional use permit to build a 3,114-square-foot restaurant with a 658-square-foot patio dining area. The building plans to occupy a vacant pad directly north of Bob’s Coffee Shop and farthest west of the Taco Bell on Whitmore Avenue.

The Habit Burger is a national burger chain that opened in recent years in Modesto and Turlock.

The prospective building site has a commercial zoning designation of Community Commercial (CC) which requires approval of a CUP for the review of the architectural design of the building and operation layout.

The applicants approached the city in July about bringing Habit Burger to Ceres. City staff expressed concerns that the drive-thru wasn’t designed to prevent the queue of vehicles from spilling onto the existing entrance drive of the shopping center. The applicant’s design team reconfigured a plan to accommodate 13 vehicles for minimal impact to the site. The city planning staff has signed onto it.

The drive-thru will consist of two lanes with two menu boards merging into the single lane past the pay and delivery windows.

“Staff believes this is a real good project and something the city needs,” said Senior Planner James Michaels.

Neil Angelillo of True North Properties, a small real estate developer from Fresno, said his firm as constructed a Habit Burger in Selma and is building them in Atwater and Merced. He said the restaurants don’t find a need for more than seven or eight cars stacking up at any given time “so this site plan with the additional stacking, they may not use the secondary lane, depending on volume.”

Commissioner Bret Silveria motioned to approve the project. It was unanimously approved.

“I think we’re all looking forward to having a Habit Burger,” commented Commissioner Laurie Smith.

The Habit Burger Grill is a fast-casual restaurant concept that specializes in preparing fresh, made-to-order chargrilled burgers and handcrafted sandwiches featuring tri-tip steak, grilled chicken and sushi-grade ahi tuna cooked over an open flame. In addition, it features fresh made-to-order salads and a selection of sides, shakes and malts.

The Habit Burger Grill was named the “best tasting burger in America” in July 2014 in a comprehensive survey conducted by one of America’s leading consumer magazines. The first Habit Burger Grill opened in Santa Barbara in 1969 and was recently named in Thrillist’s list of “Underrated Burger Chains that Need to be in Every State!”

The Habit Burger Grill has since grown to over 275 restaurants in 13 states throughout Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington as well as seven international locations.