The Habit Burger Grill, a Santa Barbara—based quick-casual restaurant concept, announced the hiring of Russ Bendel as president and CEO. Bendel previously served as the president and COO of The Cheesecake Factory and was the former CEO of Mimi’s Café, a 133 unit casual dining concept.

Brent Reichard, the founder and CEO of the Habit Burger Grill, will step down as CEO but will remain active in the company’s growth as its chairman. Dave Nordahl, the current president, will also stay actively involved in the future plans of the business and remain a Habit board member.

In August 2007, KarpReilly, LLC, a Greenwich, Connecticut—based private equity firm, invested a significant amount of equity capital in the Habit to support a more aggressive growth plan. KarpReilly acquired a majority ownership interest in the Habit while Reichard, Nordahl, and other members of management retained the balance.

The company currently operates 20 units and is planning on opening 100-120 units over the next five to seven years in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

In addition to his roles at The Cheesecake Factory and Mimi’s, Bendel was involved in the early growth of other concepts including Outback, Roy’s, and El Torito.