From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Benihana Inc.
FounderRocky Aoki
Key people
Tom Baldwin (President and CEO)
ProductsJapanese cuisine
RevenueIncreaseUS$314M (FY 2010)[1]
DecreaseUS$-7.74M (FY 2010)[1]
DecreaseUS$-10.0M (FY 2010)[1]
Total assetsDecreaseUS$234M (FY 2010)[2]
Total equityDecreaseUS$144M (FY 2010)[2]
OwnerAngelo, Gordon & Co.
Number of employees
DivisionsBenihana, Samurai, Haru, RA Sushi
Benihana on West 56th Street in New York City

Benihana Inc. (Japanese: 紅花, "Safflower") is an American restaurant company based in Aventura, Florida.[4] 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.[5][6] It was founded by Hiroaki Aoki in New York City.


The company was founded in 1964 on West 56th Street in New York City by 25-year-old Hiroaki Aoki, the father of Steve Aoki and Devon Aoki.[7]

Aoki, a wrestler who had qualified for but did not attend the 1960 Summer Olympics,[8] started the restaurant with US$10,000 (equivalent to $80,783 in 2018) 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.[citation needed]

A chef preparing a dinner at the table

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 did not do well until early 1965, when Clementine Paddleford of the New York Herald Tribune gave it a rave review.[8] The Beatles and Muhammad Ali were among the celebrities who then descended on the four-table restaurant.[9]

Within a year Aoki opened a bigger restaurant that featured samurai armor, heavy wooden ceiling beams, and sliding shōji screens to provide some privacy.[citation needed]

In 1968, it opened its first restaurant outside of New York City in Chicago.[citation needed]

In 1976, Aoki brought in consultant Hardwicke Companies (its founder Charles H. Stein was the original developer of Six Flags Great Adventure as well as operated various New York restaurants including Tavern on the Green) as a partner to run the company. In 1980, Aoki terminated the relationship and settled a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission complaint of insider trading of Hardwicke stock.[citation needed]

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 food 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.[9]

In 1995, the company acquired 17 restaurants from Benihana of Tokyo.[10]

The company has since expanded by purchasing the Haru and RA Sushi restaurants, which operate under those names.[11] 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.[citation needed]

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. A member of the board of directors was also a director of BFC, a company that held controlling interests in BankAtlantic, Blue Green, and Levitt Homes. However, the Delaware Court of Chancery upheld the decision.[12]

The famous Benihana "Tiki Mug", used for various exotic cocktails, has become collectible. (The character is known as Hotei.)

Benihana's famous figural "tiki mugs" for exotic cocktails, the most common of which depicts "Hotei," a chubby buddha-like figure with arms raised in the air, have become collectible.[citation needed]

Aoki died in 2008 at the age of 69.[13]

In 2009, Richard C. Stockinger became chief executive to replace Joel A. Schwartz,[14] and in 2010 became president as Juan C. Garcia resigned.[15]

Benihana agreed in 2012 to be purchased by the private equity firm of Angelo Gordon & Company for $296 million.[11]

On February 5, 2014, the Board of Directors of Benihana Inc. named Steve Shlemon the company's new President and Chief Executive Officer.[16]

In 2016, Benihana Inc. named Thomas J. Baldwin CEO and president. Baldwin had been director of Benihana and served as an advisor to the operator’s principal investor, Angelo, Gordon & Co.[17]


Benihana in Beaverton, Oregon

In Benihana of Tokyo, Inc. v. Benihana, Inc.,[18] 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.[19][20][21] 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.[21]

International locations[edit]

Benihana operates or franchises restaurants in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom,[22] Caribbean and Central and South America.[10][23]

Caribbean Central America North America South America

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Benihana (BNHNA) annual SEC income statement filing via Wikinvest.
  2. ^ a b Benihana (BNHNA) annual SEC balance sheet filing via Wikinvest.
  3. ^ "Company Profile for Benihana Inc (BNHNA)". Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  4. ^ "Corporate Information." Benihana. Retrieved on 13 November 2016. "Benihana Inc.[...]21500 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 900, Aventura, FL 33180"
  5. ^ Walker, Elaine. Benihana has a location on Commercial Blvd in Fort Lauderdale, which is said to have been frequented by the local Weiss and Nakdimon."Doral, Fla.-Based Benihana Discloses Secret of Its Success." Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. May 26, 1999. Retrieved on January 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "Franchising Contacts Archived 2010-04-30 at the Wayback Machine." Benihana. Retrieved on January 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Sex, drugs, and cocktail shrimp: The story behind Benihana's wild card founder". The Hustle. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  8. ^ a b "A Flower in the Debris: The Legacy of Benihana, Rocky Aoki's All-American Empire". The Ringer. July 24, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Benihana, Inc. profile – International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 18. St. James Press, 1997 – Via – Retrieved February 16, 2008". Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  10. ^ a b "Corporate Information". Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b Gasparro, Annie (May 23, 2012). "Benihana to Go Private in Buyout". The Wall Street Journal. p. B6. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  12. ^ "Benihana Inc · 8-K · For 12/9/05 · EX-99.1". 2005-12-09. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  13. ^ "Obituary". Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  14. ^ Ruggless, Ron."Benihana names new CEO as Schwartz retires[permanent dead link]." Nations Restaurant News. February 10, 2009. Retrieved, February 19, 2010.
  15. ^ Ruggless, Ron."Benihana begins work with turnaround firm[permanent dead link]." Nations Restaurant News. January 14, 2009. Retrieved, February 19, 2010.
  16. ^ Bandell, Brian (February 5, 2014). "Former Carrabba's exec to lead Benihana". Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  17. ^ Editors, The. "Benihana Names Thomas J. Baldwin CEO and President – Foodservice Equipment & Supplies".
  18. ^ Benihana of Tokyo, Inc. v. Benihana, Inc., 906 A.2d 114 (2006)
  19. ^ "Kuwait Times Website". Archived from the original on 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  20. ^ "Kuwait blogger sued over bad restaurant review – Media". Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  21. ^ a b "Kuwait blogger sued for posting dinner experience". gulfnews. 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  22. ^ "Benihana".
  23. ^ "Restaurant Locations". Retrieved 15 July 2017.

External links[edit]