Aug. 15--With nearly 100 restaurants, Irvine-based Habit Restaurants is expanding outside its core Southern California base and considering a possible IPO, according to media reports.
The burger chain is weighing an offering that could raise "around $75 million to $100 million," the Wall Street Journal reported. Habit, which has more than doubled its locations compared to three years ago, said it couldn't speak to the Wall Street rumors.
"We never comment on capitalization issues," Chief Executive Russ Bendel told the Register.
If it does go public, industry reports indicate Habit appears to be in good shape. Market research firm Technomic said Habit Burger, Shake Shack and BurgerFi are among the strongest regional players in the premium burger space.
Habit, famous for its made-to-order "charburgers," saw sales growth increase 35 percent in 2013, Technomic reported earlier this year.
The Habit Burger Grill was founded in 1969 in Santa Barbara. The burger concept's intense expansion began a few years ago when it relocated its headquarters to Orange County and tapped industry veteran Bendel to lead its growth.
On Monday, the chain plans to open its first East Coast restaurant in New Jersey. Future growth will lean on franchising. Earlier this year, Habit announced franchisee agreements that will bring 15 restaurants to the Las Vegas area and 25 to the Seattle region.
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