The new Habit Burger Grill opened Wednesday in the Whitmore Plaza Shopping Center after a soft opening in which hundreds were served free burgers.
The business put the offer of free food on social media and was inundated toward the dinner and evening hours, said Abelina Juarez, Habit Burger’s new store opening coordinator who came to Ceres from Whittier.
“To me it was just really wonderful the outreach that they’ve done to our community,” reported Councilwoman Linda Ryno at Monday’s City Council meeting. “They provided 200 free meals on Saturday, they did 200 again today (Monday).”
Juarez said that Ceres residents are thrilled about Habit’s opening – especially those who came in prior to the Jan. 12 opening and ordered food only to find out it was free.
“Some people didn’t even know we were giving out free burgers,” Juarez said.
Despite a shortage of willing workers in the country, the new Ceres eatery had no trouble hiring for all shifts. At lunch on Thursday at least 15 workers were busy at work.
“The drive-thru has been consistent ever since we opened,” said Juarez, who has opened new stores in Arizona, Utah and Washington in the past seven months. “We’re growing like crazy.”
The store has seating for 129 diners inside as well as an outdoor patio with diners for dining.
The new burger restaurant is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Construction began in spring of 2021 on the 3,114-square-foot restaurant with a 658-square-foot patio dining area. The building occupies the pad directly north of Bob’s Coffee Shop and farthest west of the Taco Bell on Whitmore Avenue.
Angel Speed 3 LP approached the city in July 2020 about bringing the chain eatery to Ceres. After city planning staff expressed concerns that the drive-thru wasn’t adequate enough to prevent the queue of vehicles from spilling onto the existing entrance drive of the shopping center, the design team reconfigured the plan. The drive-thru accommodates 13 vehicles for minimal impact to the site.
The applicant had to get city approval since the lot 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.
Habit Burger Grill was founded in Santa Barbara in 1969. The California-based restaurant company is known for its award-winning burgers grilled over an open flame, signature sandwiches and fresh-cut salads.
The Habit Burger Grill’s open flame sears a distinctive smoky flavor into their charburgers, fresh marinated chicken, sushi-grade Ahi tuna and USDA choice tri-tip steaks. In addition, it features fresh made-to-order salads and a selection of sides, shakes and malts. The Habit Burger Grill 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 298 restaurants in 14 states throughout California, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington as well as eight foreign countries.
Habit is located within the 115,396-square-foot Whitmore Plaza Shopping Center at 2517-2617 Mitchell Road and 2908-2920 E. Whitmore Avenue. The center was sold last year by Yosemite Properties to Save Mart Portfolio Owner NLP CA LLC. The acquisition cost $18.4 million. Anchors of the center are the Save Mart grocery store and Planet Fitness.