Making it a habit: Habit Burger opening 16th location in N.J. — and there are more to come

California chain (3 new locations this year) has been expanding quickly in New Jersey

The Habit Burger Grill officially opens its 16th location in New Jersey on Wednesday morning in Morris Township.

There appears to be a strong desire for it.

The location not only had to turn away crowds during its soft opening — but the concept has made expansion in the state a key priority since opening its first location in Fair Lawn less than 10 years ago.

None of this surprises Bob Borowik, a district manager for the company who oversees a region that includes parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“I think people respond to the fact we only use fresh ingredients and prepare everything to order — whether it’s our charburgers, sandwiches, salads or sides,” he said.

The restaurant, which was founded in Santa Barbara in 1969, maintains a California feel on its menu.

The Teriyaki Char adds a slice of pineapple; the Santa Barbara Char has slices of avocado and is served on grilled sourdough. There’s an ahi tuna filet sandwich option, as well as a side of tempura green beans, too.

Borowik, however, knows firsthand it appeals to a New Jersey audience. After all, he lives in South Jersey.

“New Jersey just has great people who love great food,” he said.

Soon, they’ll have more locations in New Jersey to try it.

Borowik said the company, which opened locations in East Brunswick and Bloomfield earlier this year, is close to signing leases on two more locations in Central Jersey.

The company now has 350 locations in 14 states, but only California and Arizona (the area of its first expansion) have more locations than New Jersey.

The reason: Borowik said the company is confident it can do well in a crowded New Jersey market.

“Our concept works here,” he said. “It’s not just the fresh food, but the way we treat our customers and our employees.

“It’s our heart. We care about the people. It’s all about taking care of the customer and showing them that we appreciate them. Hellos, goodbyes, thank-yous and come-agains go a long way.”

And, not just with customers. Borowik said that philosophy is why its stores have slower turnover than other fast-food restaurants.

“People love working for us,” he said. “Friendliness and respect is something you can’t fake.”

Neither is a bad burger — or chicken sandwich, French fries (regular or sweet potato) or onion rings. Not to mention the six varieties of shakes.

“That’s why people keep coming back,” Borowik said. “They love our food, and they love our freshness.”