By Andrew Shortall
7:18 PM PST, November 14, 2012
There are plenty of places to pick up a hamburger down Costa Mesa's Harbor Boulevard. The Habit Burger Grill served up one more Wednesday with the grand opening of its newest location.
Tony Serritella, Habit's chief operating officer, couldn't help but smile when two customers told him this burger trumped those offered at Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger — all three establishments are within two-and-a-half miles of each other off Harbor.
"That's why we're here, and that's what we love to hear," Serritella said while taking a break from a busy day at the restaurant at 1510 Adams Ave.
It's the 14th of 17 new restaurants the Habit will open this year with the final three coming to Irvine, San Clemente and La Cañada-Flintridge.
In a time when many businesses are cutting instead of expanding, Serritella credits the Habit's success to the right formula: quality food made with tender love and care by a helpful, friendly staff with an ambience unique to the casual burger industry.
"We think that we can be the best," he said. "If you can do it not just good, but be great at every burger you're going to get people to keep coming back."
Twin sisters Blaire Melatti and Brooke Lorenz were certainly convinced to give the Habit another taste. They'd visited the restaurant at its Huntington Beach location about two weeks ago and Melatti, who works right across the street from the Costa Mesa location, was convinced to go again.
"I've just been watching them put it together and knew it was coming, so we've just been waiting for it to open," she said.
Before the Habit officially opened in Costa Mesa, it raised a total of $3,520 in a trio of two-hour benefits for three different local organizations — Share Our Selves, Girls Inc. of Orange County and the Estancia High School football team — on Sunday and Monday.
"It went great; we had a steady stream of people coming from 12 to 2 p.m.," Estancia football booster board member Chuck Perry said. "We had people in line the whole time."
One hundred percent of the sales raised at the Habit Sunday for SOS and Girls Inc. and Monday for Eagles football went straight to the organizations. A total of $1,349 was raised for Estancia on Veteran's Day. Girls Inc., which strives to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold, and SOS also walked away with more than $1,000 each — $1,128 and $1,043, respectively.
"It was actually better than we expected it," said Alisa Driscoll, Girls Inc.'s communications and events coordinator. "It definitely raised more money for us than our traditional fundraisers with restaurants."
SOS provides safety-net services to the homeless and low-income populations in Orange County, and its director of marking and special events, Elizabeth Evans, said any extra money is welcome during the holiday season.
"It's always great to see new businesses in the area," she said. "We are appreciative of the opportunity, especially at this time of the year around the holidays. We see a spike and increase in the use of our services."