It’s about evolution, not revolution at The Habit Restaurants


  • Find ways to take what you have and make it better.
  • Give your employees opportunities to grow.
  • Be open to big change where it fits.

The Bendel File

Name: Russ Bendel
Title: President and CEO
Company: The Habit Restaurants LLC

Born: Philadelphia

Education: Bachelor’s degree in hotel administration, Florida International University.

What restaurants did you like growing up? I was born in the 50s, we didn’t go out to eat as a family a lot. I worked in restaurants as a kid and my very first job was at McDonald’s.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? There was a person I worked for with Host Marriott, Jim Moore, who was a very seasoned, but aggressive leader for his time. My wife, Judy, has also been a great influence on my life. She has always been the rock and the CEO of our family.

What is your favorite menu item at The Habit? The Santa Barbara Style, a double cheeseburger served with avocado on grilled sourdough.

What one person would you like to meet? Norman Brinker. He’s someone I never spent any time with, but I know a lot of people who I worked for in the past have. He’s kind of an icon of our industry, very progressive. He always looked for the best in people and was able to not only inspire, but encourage and develop a lot of strong leaders in our industry.
Bendel on influence vs. control: You get more done with influence than control. At times, you need to exercise control. But in the long term, influence is a much stronger, more lasting and more effective tool. If you’re not comfortable with it, you need to work at somehow becoming more comfortable if you’re going to be as effective as you possibly can as a leader.