Careers at Benihana

MISSION

Benihana Inc (“Benihana”) aims to provide high quality Japanese cuisine – including teppenyaki and sushi – to an international customer base, bringing Japanese cooking to new markets.

FOUNDING STORY

Benihana traces its roots back to Japan where, in the years following the Second World War, Yunosuke Aoki opened a coffee shop named Benihana with his wife, Katsu.

Yunosuke Aoki’s son Hiroaki Aoki was reportedly inspired by his father’s entrepreneurship and in the 1960s moved to the US with the dream of opening his own restaurant.

Hiroaki Aoki began by selling ice cream on the streets of Harlem, New York while studying restaurant management at night.

His ice cream business was successful, generating a significant profit over time.  Hiroaki Aoki used the proceeds from this business, around USD 10,000, combined with a loan from the bank to open his first Benihana restaurant in 1964 on New York’s West 56th street.

The restaurant found significant success based on its high quality food and the skills of its specialist teppanyaki chefs.  The restaurant notably received attention from consumers following a positive review from food critic Clementine Paddleford.

Hiroaki Aoki went on to open a second Benihana restaurant in New York, and a third Benihana restaurant in Chicago.  By 1972, there were six Benihana locations in the United States.

The Company has continued to expand its operations.  It is the largest operator of teppanyaki restaurants in the US.

It operates more than 70 Benihana restaurants across the US, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, and employs more than 4,700 employs around the world.

Business model of Benihana

Customer Segments

Benihana operates a network of Teppenyaki restaurants.

It serves a broad consumer base in its operating markets, primarily comprising:

  • General Consumers, comprising consumers across all demographics, but in particular, according to a recent survey, middle income professionals;
  • Businesses, comprising a range of small and medium sized businesses to which the Company’s restaurants provide group catering services and provides event hosting services; and
  • Events Organisers, comprising both general consumers and organisations to which the Company provides events catering services.

Benihana is headquartered in Florida, the United States and primarily serves customers through a domestic network of restaurants.

The Company, however, has expanded its operating network to include restaurants across the Caribbean, North America, and Latin America.

Value Propositions

Benihana provides value to its customers in the following ways:

  • History and Reputation – Benihana has a longstanding reputation as an operator of Japanese restaurants dating back to the 1960s, and has established itself as the largest operator of teppanyaki restaurants in North America;
  • Expertise and Experience – Benihana employs specialist cooking and service personnel across its network of restaurants who have experience of working in teppanyaki outlets both in the US and abroad;
  • Quality Products – Benihana offers high quality Japanese cuisine, including a wide range of teppanyaki, sushi, and other traditional Japanese dishes, ensuring that customers will return to the Company’s restaurants;
  • Entertainment and Atmosphere – Benihana offers its customers a unique experience and atmosphere, with its chefs cooking food on teppanyaki grills in front of customers and performing skills and tricks for customers; and
  • International Network – Benihana operates a large network of restaurants across the US, as well as outlets across markets in the Caribbean, North America, and Latin America.

Channels

Benihana services its customers directly through its network of restaurants.

The Company operates 67 restaurants across the US, North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Benihana additionally serves customers through 4 restaurants operating under the Haru brand, and 20 restaurants operating under the RA Sushi brand.

All of Benihana’s restaurants are staffed by specialist teppanyaki chefs and servers who provide service and assistance to customers directly.

In New York, in addition to its in-restaurant services, Benihana offers delivery services seven days per week.  The Company does not operate an online ordering channel, and instead takes delivery order in New York over the phone.

The Company, however, does offer a dedicated delivery menu, which can be viewed online.

Customer Relationships

Benihana seeks to secure recurring business from its customers by providing high quality products and a unique and enjoyable dining experience.

The Company’s principal point of contact for its customers is its in-restaurant personnel, who are on hand to take orders, respond to queries and complaints, and offer advice on menu items.

Customers are notably served by specialist teppanyaki chefs who are tasked with both entertaining customers and preparing their orders.

Benihana operates the Chef’s Table service, a membership and rewards program for its regular guests and a means of encouraging repeat business.

Through this program the Company offers its frequent customers early access to news and updates, special offers, and a complimentary USD 30 Benihana Birthday Certificate during the month of their birthday.

Benihana operates a website at www.benihana.com, through which it keeps its provides information on deals and offers, restaurant locations, menu items, and corporate details.

The Company is additionally able to communicate directly with its customers through its various social media accounts, including with  Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Key Activities

Benihana is engaged primarily in the operation of teppanyaki-style Japanese restaurants under the Benihana brand.

The Company also operates other Asian restaurant concepts that include RA Sushi and Haru.

Through its various restaurants, Benihana offers a range of Japanese dishes, including fresh steak, chicken, and seafood; RA Sushi offers sushi and dishes originating from the Pacific-Rim; and Haru offers traditional Japanese and Japanese fusion dishes.

Benihana currently owns 67 Benihana teppanyaki restaurants, 4 Haru Sushi restaurants, and 20 RA Sushi restaurants across the US, North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

There are currently 10 Benihana franchises in operation around the world.  Benihana is headquartered in Aventura, Florida.

Key Partners

Benihana works with a wide range of partners that support its restaurant and corporate operations in differing ways.

The Company’s partners can be organised broadly into the following categories:

  • Supplier and Vendor Partners, comprising suppliers of food, equipment, and ingredients for use across the Company’s international network of restaurants, as well as third party service providers that offer services in support of the Company’s corporate activities more broadly;
  • Marketing and Sponsorship Partners, comprising a range of commercial entities and organisations with which the Company partners on marketing, distribution, and sponsorship projects designed to extend the Company’s marketing reach;
  • Franchise Partners, comprising various restaurant operators, business owners, and food service companies that operate Benihana restaurants in partnership with and on behalf of the Company; and
  • Strategic Partners, comprising a range of companies and organisations with which the Company collaborates on a range of other business development and branding projects.

Benihana has agreed a number of partnerships in recent years.

The Company has notably launched a partnership with US sports and entertainment company AEG in 2019 to operate teppanyaki outlets at various live sporting events.

Key Resources

The success of Benihana’s business model depends on its continued ability to provide customers with high quality food products in an inviting atmosphere.

As such, the Company’s key resources are its intellectual properties – including its brands and recipes, its network of physical outlets across the Americas, its equipment, its personnel – notably its specialist teppanyaki chefs, its partners – notably its franchise partners, and its suppliers and supply chain.

Cost Structure

Benihana incurs costs in relation to the development of it intellectual properties, the training of its specialist personnel, the procurement of supplies and equipment – in particular food ingredients, the purchase of third party services, the management and operation of its physical outlets – including utility and occupancy costs, the maintenance and development of IT and communications infrastructure, the management of its partnerships, and the payment of salaries and benefits to its employees.

Benihana notably employs 7,400 employees across its operating markets, accounting for a significant portion of the Company’s annual costs.

Revenue Streams

Benihana generates revenue through the operation of an international network of teppanyaki restaurants under the Benihana brand, as well as sushi restaurants under the RA Sushi brand, and traditional Japanese restaurants under the Haru brand.

The Company derives its revenue primarily through sales fees which are collected from customers at point of sale across its network of restaurants.

Benihana also generates revenue through the collection of franchise fees from its various franchise partners.  The Company currently has ten franchises in operation.

A portion of Benihana’s revenue is also derived under its Chef’s Table rewards program.

Benihana is a privately-owned business, and as such it is not obliged to disclose its financial results to the public.

According to a list compiled by Restaurant Business, Benihana recorded annual sales in the US of approximately USD 313 million in 2015.

Our team

Thomas J. Baldwin,
President and Chief Executive Officer

info: Thomas J. Baldwin (“Baldwin”) has served as President and Chief Executive Officer at Benihana since joining the 2016. He is responsible for leading the Company’s overall strategic direction and functions as its key decision maker. Baldwin additionally serves as a director of Dunkin Brands Metro NYC Franchisee and of Flynn Restaurant Group. Baldwin began his career in 1978 as an auditor in General Foods / Kraft’s Corporate Audit Department. He went on to serve consecutively as an inventory manager in the International Market Development Department, Chief Financial Officer of Mexican Foods of America, and Business Development Manager in the Desserts Division. In 1985, he joined Citi Group as Vice President, and in 1986 he joined Le Peep Restaurants as Chief Financial Officer. Baldwin has since served in senior executive positions at Morton’s Restaurant Group, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Claim jumper Restaurants, and ROI Acquisition Corp.

Nicole Thaung,
Chief Financial Officer

info: Nicole Thaung (“Thaung”) has served as Chief Financial Officer at Benihana since August 2018. She is responsible for leading the Company’s various financial management operations, including overseeing its accounting, tax, and internal audit units. Thaung began her career at professional services firm Ernst and Young, where she served from 2002 to 2010 as a manager. She joined Benihana in May 2010 as Financial Reporting Director, and prior to assuming her current position served consecutively as Senior Director of Financial Reporting and Accounting, Controller, and Vice President of Finance and Controller.

Daniel Tintsman,
Director of Operations at Benihana

info: Daniel Tintsman (“Tintsman”) has served as Benihana’s Director of Operations since April 2018. He oversees Benihana’s daily operations, including responsibility for the coordination of the Company’s various restaurant, supply, and other operations. Tintsman first joined Benihana in 2009 as Regional Manager for the Northeast. Tintsman began his career in 1994 as Banquet Captain at Continental Catering. After two years in this position, he moved to La Venezia Café as a service manager, following which he served for 12 months as Associate General Manager at Kovar’s Village Grill. Between 2000 and 2006, Tintsman served as General Manager at Carlson Restaurants / TGI Friday’s, and from 2006 to 2007 he served as Director of Operations at Moe’s Management. Tintsman returned to Carlson Restaurants in 2007 as General Manager.

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