Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 11:35 am | Fair 57º

 
 
 
 

Business

Habit Burger Founders to Breathe Fresh Life into Beach Grill at Padaro

Brent and Bruce Reichard to bring a different approach to the beachside restaurant

The Beach Grill at Padaro in Carpinteria will reopen its doors with a new look and new owner on May 16, according to owner Brent Reichard.

“(The previous owners) called to ask if we’d be interested in doing a new lease there,” Reichard told Noozhawk. “At first I wasn’t real excited because I was pretty busy with Hook, but then I remembered how cool the property was.”

Reichard and his brother Bruce founded the now 39-unit, Irvine-based Habit Burger Grill chain three decades ago.

The Reichard brothers sold most of the Habit Burger chain to private-equity firm KarpReilly LLC in 2007. It has grown exponentially while the founders have held on to the four units in Santa Barbara, and Brent Reichard opened his first Hook Burger Bistro in Oxnard last November.

The new concept at Hook is designed to tap into the growing demand for more upscale burgers without an upscale price.

Reichard wasn’t ready to “retire the spatula.”

“It’s just a very unique (and spacious) location. There’s not a lot of restaurants on the beach in the Santa Barbara area,” Reichard said, adding that Shoreline Cafe, The Boathouse and Brophy Bros. were the ones that came to mind.

December’s closing of the 24-year-old property that overlooked Santa Claus Beach came as a surprise to many, including workers at nearby Garden Market. The restaurant was well-known for its scenic view of the beach, and its lawn and sandy play area where kids could run around between burgers and dessert.

“It was very sudden. I heard some of the employees didn’t even know,” Garden Market Manager Sherrie Payden told Noozhawk in December. “I know it closed a little when it was raining and never reopened. Everyone is surprised because it was a thriving business.”

Reichard said a slow winter coupled with high prices and inconsistent food quality and presentation didn’t bode well.

“They were far behind on the rent, apparently. The owners probably weren’t around as much as might have needed to be,” he said. “Our prices aren’t going to be near what they were. I think it was 15 bucks for a Caesar chicken salad.”

The new Beach Grill will have the same USDA prime beef and buns as Hook, but will offer more variety in terms of fish and the children’s menu. Eight draft beers will be on tap as well as wine.

The average transaction at Hook Burger is about $13.50, about $3 higher than that of Habit Burger, Reichard said.

“We try to give our advertising budget back to customers on the plate and executing hospitality side of service,” he said. “We focus on on the top line rather than the bottom; that has been the family’s philosophy.”

A percentage rent deal will make the lease more palatable for potential slow months, Reichard said. Percentage rent is a percentage of the tenant’s annual sales paid in addition to a fixed rent. He explained that if sales exceed a break point, or a predetermined sales level, additional rent is paid.

“(The lease) is not bad; it’s more reasonable than you would think,” Reichard said.

A stage has been built for live music, in addition to a raised part on the acre of back lawn, a water feature and a bridge.

“We will be done with the landscape in two weeks,” he said. “We’re just now starting the interior.”

The restaurant is being revamped with reclaimed brick and an LEED-certified floor. The location will have more of a beach paradise feel, Reichard said.

Reichard started working for The Habit at age 16, and he and his brother purchased the store on Hollister Avenue in 1980, he said, not expanding until 1996.

Although the economic downturn has reduced the frequency of their consistent customers at The Habit, it has picked up business from casual dining restaurants, Reichard said.

“Sometimes it’s a slower build, but we’re excited about the long-term potential,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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