Emerging Brands

Habit Burger named 2018 Pacesetter Award winner

The fast casual owes its success to its staff, CEO Russ Bendel said when accepting this year’s award.

Strong leadership and sustained growth has earned The Habit Burger Grill the distinction of 2018 Pacesetter, an award given by Restaurant Business to an emerging restaurant brand that has proven itself a leader and innovator whose influence on the industry is palpable.  

The chain owes its success to its staff, the men and women who bring passion to its restaurants every day, said Habit Burger CEO Russ Bendel, who accepted the award Tuesday at the Restaurant Leadership Conference, an annual gathering of industry leaders, held in Phoenix. The Pacesetter Award presentation was sponsored by Hormel.

Habit Burger looks to grow through a process of steady progress, of being “evolutionary, not revolutionary,” Bendel said. Appealing to consumers’ desire for convenience will be a key facet of the chain’s expansion moving forward, executives noted, as it plans to up its ratio of drive-thru units.

The annual Pacesetter Award is given to a brand previously featured as a member of Restaurant Business’ Future 50—a yearly collection of emerging chains to watch—that has increased its annual sales to more than $50 million.

The Habit’s 2016 sales grew 26.3% from the year before, rising on unit-count growth of 21.1%, according to Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. In fiscal 2017, total revenues at the chain increased 15.2%, to $85.1 million.

The recipient of last year’s Pacesetter Award was fast-casual pizza concept MOD Pizza.

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