|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2009)|
|Headquarters||Doral, Florida, U.S.|
|Key people||Steve Shlemon (President and CEO)|
|Revenue||US$314M (FY 2010)|
|Operating income||US$-7.74M (FY 2010)|
|Net income||US$-10.0M (FY 2010)|
|Total assets||US$234M (FY 2010)|
|Total equity||US$144M (FY 2010)|
|Owners||Angelo, Gordon & Co.|
|Divisions||Benihana, Samurai, Haru, RA Sushi|
Benihana Inc. (Japanese language: 紅花 "Safflower") is a Doral, Florida-based American restaurant company. It owns or franchises 116 Japanese cuisine restaurants around the world, including its flagship Benihana Teppanyaki brand, as well as the Haru (fusion cuisine) and RA Sushi restaurants. It was founded by Hiroaki Aoki.
The company was founded in 1964 on West 56th Street in New York City by 25-year-old Hiroaki "Rocky" Aoki.
Aoki, a wrestler who had qualified for but did not attend the 1960 Summer Olympics, started the restaurant with $10,000 earned from driving an ice cream truck in Harlem. The first restaurant, Benihana of Tokyo, was named for the red Safflower that was the name for the coffee shop owned by his parents in Tokyo.
Aoki's concept was for the meals to be theatrically prepared by a knife-wielding, joke-telling chef at a teppanyaki table surrounded by a wooden eating surface in front of the guests (Teppan meaning "steel grill" or "griddle" and yaki meaning "grilled" or "broiled"). It initially did not do well until early 1965 when Clementine Paddleford of the New York Herald Tribune gave it a rave review. The Beatles and Muhammad Ali were among the celebrities who then descended on the four-table restaurant.
In 1968 it opened its first restaurant outside of New York City in Chicago.
Aoki brought in consultant Hardwicke Companies (its founder Charles H. Stein was the original developer of Six Flags Great Adventure and also operated various New York restaurants including Tavern on the Green) as a partner to run the company in 1976. Aoki terminated the relationship in 1980 and settled a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint of insider trading of Hardwicke stock.
In 1982 Benihana National Corporation went public with Joel Schwartz as president. Some of the restaurants continued to be privately owned by Aoki. The company had some missteps including the opening of the upscale Big Splash restaurant and a frozen foods division Benihana National Classics. Its stock dived and shareholders sued over management including the fact that Aoki still had his privately held restaurants of the same name.
In 1995 all of the Benihana Restaurants were consolidated under Benihana Inc.
The company has since expanded by purchasing the Haru and RA Sushi restaurants, which operate under those names. Haru is based in New York City; RA has locations across the country, and is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, with its original four locations scattered around the greater Phoenix area. Although Benihana owns these concepts, they are independently operated and were developed autonomously. It also acquired the Samurai and Kyoto restaurants which it has incorporated into its other brands.
In 2004 the company issued a class of preferred stock to BFC Financial corporation to renovate its restaurants and expand. The stock diluted Aoki's control of the chain and the family sued, citing that Benihana had no compelling need for the cash, other forms of capital were available, and that the terms of the preferred stock issued to BFC were onerous. One of the members of the board of directors was also a director of BFC, a company that held controlling interests of BankAtlantic, Blue Green, and Levitt Homes. However, the Delaware Court of Chancery upheld the decision.
Aoki died in 2008 at the age of 69.
Benihana agreed in 2012 to be purchased by the private equity firm of Angelo Gordon & Company for $296 million.
On February 5, 2014 the Board of Directors of Benihana Inc. announced that restaurant industry veteran Steve Shlemon has been named the company's new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.
In Benihana of Tokyo, Inc. v. Benihana, Inc., financial issues and a change of corporate control led three of the members of the Benihana, Inc.'s board of directors to consider the issuance of convertible stock and its sale to a potential buyer. Eventually, the entire board approved resolutions ratifying a stock purchase agreement with the buyer and authorizing the stock issuance. Afterwards, the company filed an action against almost all of Benihana, Inc.'s directors, alleging breaches of fiduciary duties.
On January 30, 2011, Benihana (Kuwait) filed a defamation lawsuit against a blogger for writing about his experience on his website. Las Palmas, the company that owns Benihana in Kuwait, took legal action against the reviewer for his "negative" attitudes towards the restaurant and for recording the videos without permission. The company alleged that the blogger worked for an advertising company and might have personal motives that could be linked to his work to denigrate Benihana and praise its competitors located in the same area.
Benihana is present in 22 countries.
|North America||Europe||South America||Asia||Oceania|
On February 16, 2005, the company restated a credit agreement dated December 3, 2002 by and among Benihana Inc., the Guarantors and Wachovia Bank, National Association, as Agent and Lender.
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