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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Economic Update: Fast Food in My Future

         Last week I talked about the recent business closures in my neighborhood of Staples and an AT&T phone store.  The space previously occupied by Staples shows no indication of any new business moving in, however I noticed that there was a great deal of activity occurring in the much smaller phone store space.  On my morning walk last Thursday morning, I decided to check in to see if I could figure what exactly was going on there.

         As neared the store I could see one of the front doors propped wide open.  I moved in closer to read a notice posted in the window.  There were no clues given as to what was happening since the paper was merely an obligatory posting of a city license allowing the contractors to renovate the store space.  Looking inside I could see that progress was well underway as the entire place was gutted and the new business was being set up.

         Suddenly a friendly looking fellow appeared before me. "It's going to be a Habit Burger."  Seeing my puzzlement he continued, "They're kind of like In-and-Out Burger but less expensive".

         "Habit Burger?" I said.   "I've never heard of them."

          "There are quite a few of them.  We've already installed several locations around L.A."   I don't know if the guy was a construction company foreman or a spokesperson for the hamburger chain.   It was almost like he was doing a sales pitch for the restaurant.  He continued, "The hamburgers are really good.  They also have sides like onion rings."

           He would have to mention onion rings.   I love onion rings.  I also like In-and-Out Burger.   Anyone in California and a few other fortunate localities know this chain which has rabid fans and has been named in many polls as one of America's best hamburgers.   This guys pitch was starting to make my mouth water and my stomach rumble for lunch and it was only 9 AM.  Visions of burgers and onion rings danced in my head.

ETR 102 The Habit Burger Grill 05 2012-12-02 12-47-53
Check out the review at "Eating Through Roseville"
          "You'll have to try them when they open," the unofficial spokesman persisted with a grin.  He could have been one of Santa's helpers with his impish demeanor.

         "Well, I live just across the street so I'm sure I'll be here."  I thanked the fellow for the information and continued on my walk.

          Habit Burger?  Talk about a business name that gets right to the point.  The goal of any fast food restaurant is to get patrons hooked on a habit.   Many of us have become fast food junkies with a habit as bad as any drug addict.   I've never even tasted the food at Habit Burger, yet I'm salivating as I think of it.  My visit to the Habit Burger website didn't help matters.

          After they've opened I'll give you my thoughts on it as well as my observations on my local fast food scene.  The way those contractors are going at it, this Habit location will probably be ready to go in a couple of weeks.  Fast construction for fast food.  Makes total sense to me.

         Here's a promo about the place--you'd think I've got some kind of investment in this establishment the way I'm going on about it:

          Have you eaten at Habit Burger?    What is your favorite fast food habit?   Do you have any fast food restaurants within easy walking distance from where you live?


  1. I've never heard of Habit Burger. Although you've probably never heard of the Cookout, and they are famous around here for their burgers and shakes.
    Believe it or not, I eat at a fast food place maybe once a year. Sometimes less. Food is just too bad for you. We do Chinese take out and pizza probably twice a month, but no fast food.

  2. I live out in the country, so nothing is in within walking distance.

    As a vegan who likes to eat healthy, I don't visit fast food places often. Although once in a great while I have a hankering for McDonald's fries.

  3. Habit Burger? Nope, I have not heard that terminology before now. Great video! The food looks really tasty. I love hamburgers! We usually go to Five Guys in town. One fall, DH & took it upon ourselves to do a burger comparison. The winner was clearly Five Guys. One place we missed was Fudrucker's. We ate there once many moons ago, so we will have to give them a little business to see how they fair against Five Guys. Now, I want a hamburger and fries please. Happy #WW!

  4. What is it with North Americans and burgers? We never eat them. I agree with Diane about McDonald's fries although I never eat those either, not for many a long year. Once in a while we have a 6 inch sub from Subway with our own choices, not theirs. We have to drive to get there, or any other fast food place. I'll never forget going on a cruise where they served wonderful food and also had a burger bar. The latter was always very busy.

  5. I've heard of In and Out but not Habit Burger. We don't have either of those in Abq. Every once in awhile I get Taco Bell's tacos. Maybe once a year.

  6. I've never heard of Habit Burger. I wonder if it's just local to your area. We have a few burger places where I live that are supposed to have great burgers, but I don't eat red meat much. Bad cholesterol.

  7. Alex-- Actually I did see Cookout restaurants when I was in Tennessee and surrounding states. I guess it was probably the same place. Didn't try it, but it was recommended. I rarely eat hamburgers anymore. And since my wife doesn't love pizza and Chinese food like I do, we rarely have those. If we get fast food it's usually Mexican food.

    L.Diane -- I know what you mean about those fries. These days I can barely finish a small order. When I go to McDonald's it's usually for the caramel mochas--hot or iced depending on the temperature outside.

    Cathy-- My wife and I tried Five Guys once and weren't overly impressed. Of course my wife doesn't usually like hamburgers too much. We both loved Fuddruckers though. Great burgers! We've eaten there several times though it's been a few years since we were last there. It's a bit further from our house than we tend to go these days.

    Jo-- Burgers are fast and easy and they can be quite tasty. I probably eat at Subway more than any other fast food chain--yes, there is one across the street from me in walking distance. I usually get a footlong and eat part for lunch and the rest later for supper. The subs seem healthier than most other fast food options.

    Karen-- I used to get Taco Bell more than I do now but then they closed the one that was most convenient to my house. Now if I'm getting that kind of Mexican food I'll go to Del Taco--there's one across the street from me in easy walking distance.

    Patricia-- Habit Burger is mostly regional to California, but it appears that they are expanding with locations in a number of other states. I don't eat all that much red meat either, but now and then it's somewhat enjoyable.


  8. I've never heard of either burger place you mentioned.
    We used to have a McDonald's nearby but they moved a couple miles away to get more traffic.

    Husband and I only eat out once or twice a month (if we're lucky), so we're not really "hooked" on anything.

  9. LEE ~
    Damn, that picture of the Habit Burger has even got ME salivating... and I've been a vegetarian since late in 1985.

    There are Habit Burger joints out here in Phoenix. I've passed them many times while driving but obviously have never eaten in one. The fast food places I most frequently eat at are Mexican food joints because they have a lot of cheese and beans-based items I can choose from. (Filibertos and all the other "...bertos" burrito places, Taco Bell once in awhile, or Del Taco which used to be a poor man's Taco Bell but has completely renovated their menu and is now FAR SUPERIOR to Taco Bell, and even cheaper, too. I also eat a lot of Ramona's frozen Chile Relleno burritos which I nuke when I'm in a hurry. I love them, and thankfully Smart & Final gets them from Ramona's in Gardena, Calif. No other store out here carries them.)

    The first thing I noticed about the picture of that Habit Burger is that's REAL GUACAMOLE on that burger, not the usual bright green-colored watery sauce that the phony places pass off as guacamole and that rookies eat, thinking it's guacamole. You can't fool me about guacamole - I'm a Southern Californian, born and raised! You can look at the guac on that Habit Burger and see the chunkiness of it and the uneven various shades of green which clearly indicates that REAL AVOCADOS gave their lives for that guacamole.

    Man, I may just have to go into the next Habit Burger I see out here and ask if they make a veggie burger. Or, better yet... can they just pile on some guacamole, tomato and cheese slices and call it a hamburger for me?

    Everyone talks about McDonald's french fries but back in the 1970s and '80s, the BEST fast food french fries, hands down, were found at Carl's Junior! They had crinkle fries that were really crispy on the outside but warm and soft on the inside. Great texture and great flavor.

    My Sister and I were always touting Carl's Juniors french fries, because there were none others like them to be found. But for some sad and bizarre reason, in the late '80s or early '90s, Carl's Junior switched to the same sort of fries you find in all the other fast food joints, like McDonalds, Jack In The Box, etc., and it left my Sister and me completely mystified. We never bothered going to Carl's Jr. after that because the french fries had always been the only really good reason for eating at that place to begin with.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  10. We don't have a Habit Burger way up here in the North Country of Montana.....we don't even have a Burger King which is what the promo brings to mind.....I can even smell the smokey goodness of those char-broiled burgers....YUM! We do have a McDonald's where I live and every once in a while, the craving for those McNuggets is inescapable. With a large, hazelnut iced coffee, extra cream please. My favorite fast food joint is a local treasure called Rod's Drive In. There's only one and it's an institution here. Their Ugly Burger is a glorious mess of a burger that requires a giant stack of napkins to finish. Best accompanied by a side of onion rings and an orange whip (orange soda blended with milk and a touch of soft serve ice cream). I have to go now because I must make a trip to Rod's for lunch!

  11. BOIDMAN ~
    I just looked them up online. There's 5 HABIT BURGERS in Phoenix, and one is about a 15-minute drive from my house. They have Veggie Burgers. I'm leaving my house in about 5 minutes. First stop: Gas. Second stop: Habit Burger.

    Would you say I'm the impressionable sort?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  12. Never heard of them! Is there one that's close enough for you to try before this one opens? The burger looks great but that big, it seems like the bun will lose all structural integrity after a couple bites.

    I don't have a fast food habit. Back in WA there was a Dairy Queen nearby that I liked for a quick burger every now and then. My weakness is pizza though but I don't get it too often.

  13. Jennifer-- My fast food excursions are usually while traveling or just a matter of convenience or not wanting to fix anything at home. But I'm kind of hooked on fast food.

    StMc-- Give me a report if you do go to Habit Burger. I guess I'll find out soon though. I've been thinking about going vegetarian for good health, but I don't think I'd seriously go that route--not anytime soon though. Del Taco has good crinkle cut fries according to my daughters. I'm not a big fan of crinkle cut, but I'll eat them if that's what's available. I'm not all that picky about my food.

    Lana--- Good to see you here! An Ugly Burger sounds about as appealing as the Fatburgers we have here--I question the sagacity of those names, but I guess that marketing has worked. I used to like Taco John's in Montana and there was a pizza chain that I used to go to every time I was up there. I guess the demographics of Montana don't entice a lot of the big chains. Now I wish that Habit Burger was open so I could go over and get one for lunch.

    StMc-- Yes, I saw the locations in Phoenix when I was on their site. Let me know your verdict. I think Habit Burger should send me some coupons for my post today.

    JoJo-- I too am deprived of pizza since my wife never likes it much. If I get one I have to eat it all myself. The Dairy Queen that was close to us closed many years ago. My wife and I make several DQ stops when we're traveling--especially in Texas where they are everywhere.


  14. I've never heard of Habit Burger, but from the looks of them, they'd probably be addictive. We have a place called Five Guys. I think there are some of those in California. Those are addictive, too.

  15. Most interesting Lee, though I expect you've never heard of many of our fast food outlets. We do have some American ones here and excellent they are too.


  16. You would talk about food today:) I am going through living hell right now.....the pre-colonoscopy test. Right now any food looks wonderful. I have never heard of this burger place. In Canada we have Tim Horton's which makes a huge killing in mullah. People get hooked. Tim's coffee, donoughts, bagels. They were always mainly donoughts and coffee but one can get wraps and chill there now. I don't go to fast food places at all since I am hypoglycemic and they are a no-no....hence why I feel like I am going to faint plus hurl drinking that vile liquid that only Lucifer must have invented for this test

  17. I make the best onion rings ever.
    Just sayin'.
    Maybe the best hamburgers, too. I mean, even my daughter likes my burgers better than any fast food place, which is saying a lot, because she generally prefers processed stuff over what I make.

    I'm not a fan of In-and-Out. My opinion has declined quite a bit since the first time I had them something like 15 years ago. I'd rather go almost anywhere else than there, at this point. Not that we eat out much, but still...

  18. I have only been to an In-And-Out Burger once.

    When they opened one in AZ, it was big news. The next time I drove to LA, I stopped for gas and lunch and chose I&OB.

    I don't get it.

    It's a fast food burger.

    It may be better than McDonald's (not hard to do), but America's best burger?

    I rarely eat fast food-it usually does not agree with me, but if I am going to eat a hamburger, it's not going to be from a fast food joint.

    The closest to that I would do is Fuddruckers (if they are still around).

    Anyone in LA, go to Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset or Hollywood Boulevard (they were both still open last time I was in town-there used to be one in DC, too)...and tell me what you think.


  19. I'm vegan and I LOVE In N Out! Their animal style veggie is the bomb! Way to support your neighborhood economy. :)
    Raquel Byrnes

  20. I haven't heard of them either. No I miss In-and-Out Burger....

  21. This is a new one to me. But I'll tell you if they taste as good as that picture, they won't be strangers for long. I now have to take a break and find something to eat.

  22. Living on the East Coast the closet thing we have to a national chain like those is the half dozen Sonics here in CT.

    I have two non-chain local fast food restaurants within walking distance. One is burger/dog joint (has won awards and has one of CT's 10 best burgers) but I stopped going there about a year ago due to difference of business philosophy with the owner. The other is a boneless wing place.

    The one place I make a habit of going to sells basically hot dogs, especially the two foot monstrosity that was featured on Man vs. Food a few years ago, along with burgers and seafood.

    Father Nature's Corner

  23. Sherry-- I've been to Five Guys only once. Probably need to give it another chance.

    Yvonne -- I love chains that are mostly or completely regional. The biggies get old sometimes.

    Birgit-- Poor dear, but why'd you have to bring up Tim Horton's. I love their coffee and muffins. I wish they'd open one around here.

    Andrew-- Homemade is better from a competent cook.

    Larry-- I don't get the hullabaloo either. Never tried Hamburger Hamlet but have wanted to for years.

    Raquel-- I knew they had a "grilled cheese" because that's what one of my daughters usually gets. Sounds interesting the way you describe it.

    Southpaw-- I will soon know more about them.

    C.Lee-- I'm sure there's one fairly close to you.

    G.B.-- Went to Sonics around the country several times this summer. Usually I got hot dogs or milkshakes.


  24. I have heard of them. But that's because there is one on my route to work. I've never eaten there, though (I don't do red meat or fast food). As for fast food within walking distance--I just moved, so I'm not sure.

  25. I've never heard of Habit Burger but I wish they were here in Austin! Their burgers look yummy and the first place I went on their website was to the "Doing Our Part" section, which details their community involvement. I always like to patronize establishments that give back to the community and this one certainly does. My favorite fast food places are local chains: Schlotsky's (a fabulous sandwich shop where they make their own very special bread daily) and Whataburger which is a cook-as-you-order hamburger fast food joint. The wait is a little longer than say, McDonalds or Burger King, but at least you know you know you're getting a super fresh meal. I wish other people around the country/world could taste Schlotsky's and Whataburger. They are also very active in the local communities. I like that!

  26. I won't fault anyone for eating what they like, but I'm not much for fast food. I pretty much only have it when I don't have a choice (most recently, when the bus I was taking made a lunch stop at one).

    No fast food in walking distance, either, unless you count the Freezo—an ice cream place that's been around since about the '50s. We do have a fantastic natural foods store in the neighborhood. I'm addicted to their cucumber soda, so I always buy a few cans when I'm passing by.

  27. Liz A--You'll have to get out on foot and do some exploring in your neighborhood.

    Angels-- When we were taking our trip we passed many Whataburgers and I was so tempted to stop at one. They were advertising some sort of green chile burger or the like and I was curious. Maybe next time.

    Kelly-- I'll settle for an ice cream place. We have a few places nearby that either specialize in ice cream or frozen yogurt or include it as part of their menu. Love ice cream!


  28. Nope, I've never had a Habit burger. Never even heard of it before today. My favorite take out food is chinese food and my favorite fast food has been Taco Bell chalupas. I'm pretty much giving up on the take out/fast food as I've been working towards going gluten-free. I did notice the other day that one of our local pizza places is advertising a gluten-free pizza so I might be tempted to give it a try one day.

  29. Lee, Whataburger was probably annoucing their hatch-chili special. Hatch chili's are in season right now and everybody has "Hatch chili something!" I just bought hatch chili hummus the other day! Love those hatch chili's!

  30. Susanne-- I like having a variety of choices. I've been hearing so much about the gluten-free diets. Hope I don't have to do that.

    Michele-- That's probably what I saw. I've been seeing the Hatch Chili ads for different things around here. I've heard about these chilis, but to my knowledge I never tried them.


  31. Never heard of 'Habit Burger', but it seems like, for once I'm in the majority here. We do have In and Out in Nevada, but I don't eat meat, so I don't frequent burger joints. for two months now I've been on an elimination diet (not really, but the diet consists of some fruit, most vegetables,and meats - kind of leaves me and the rabbits out there), which means I eat almost nothing, so I don't frequent anyplace that has food. The picture looks pretty good though. Kind of amazing what brings people out to comment - a burger joint?

  32. FAE-- Kind of surprising what we writers write about in order to elicit comments. To me that's the fun of blogging though--we get to experiment with different styles, voices, topics, etcetera, with no overly restrictive guidelines.

    Is bacon meat? If not then I don't usually eat much meat. I'm not quite ready to go vegetarian though I'm sure it might be better for me.


  33. Right across the street? Way too tempting. ☺ I love onion rings and burgers but they're aren't any fast food places within easy walking distance. One is about 30 minutes away by foot. That would be a good way to work off some of the calories, yes?
    Looking forward to your review!

  34. Lee-

    I misunderstood your post-I thought you'd agreed with the "best burger" opinion.

    I could concede best "fast food" burger (although I had a Sonic burger once and remember liking that ok), but I simply don't eat fast food enough to know.

    I just think that for anyone who thinks any fast food place is the best anything....they need to visit other restaurants.

    I'd stack almost every bar hamburger I have every had against any fast food place, and I bet they'd win!

    But then, I live in a city where Olive Garden gets voted as the best Italian restaurant every year....yet there are a handful of fine upscale Italian restaurants.

    I guess people confuse "low cost" with "best" when voting.

    My rules for any votes on best food establishments would be to throw out the chains.

  35. It was certainly not less expensive than In and Out. My favorite is Farmer Burger.


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