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Benihana

In: Business and Management

Submitted By jacc
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Benihana restaurants have been operated many years ago growing up to a mayor Japanese and Sushi restaurant chain valued up to 295 MD. Nowadays this restaurant chain belongs to a mayor private equity firma called Angelo Gordon & Company. But what is it what made de Behinana so successful? How it became one of the most important restaurant chain in the USA? I will try to resume the main key factor that was fundamental to its success.
All started with the dream of Rocky Aki back in the mid 60’s when he saw the big opportunity to create a Japanese restaurant in New York. However his first business only did well after he got some good review from the New York Herald Tribune.
I can assume with confidence that part of this success besides other point that I will mention later in this short Assay, were related to a good comment from a famous food writer. In the USA the reviews from important people can either push to success or take you directly to bankruptcy. We also have to bear in mind that in the 60’s and 70’s there was kind of the Asian boon in the states. Bruce Lee was a celebrity and many people started to be interests in the oriental culture.
Rocky’s aim was to create a Japanese Restaurant with only 3 middle entries with the idea behind on reducing food cost by 35 % and reducing setup times. Some of the main problems the US had were availability and cost of labor. Here he put special attention with a mayor focus on overheads. His business model mainly in food service turned a little bit to the sales of beverages too, as he realized that it represented a significant part of the income.
The introduction of the cooking food in front of the customers (hibachi table concept) and specialized Japanese chefs is its key competitive advantage to others restaurants, for Americans this was seen as a Broadway show. That not only gave his a special attention point, it also helped him to transform the conventional kitchen space and tools. If we translate this operational difference into numbers, he was able to reduce space up to 8%. In the restaurant business space is money.
The Japanese style decoration with original japan items was well received by the American people. The term exotic food and place made this restaurant and interesting place to eat. Rocky wanted to bring the Japanese tradition to America and make his place unique close to the business districts and with easy access to residential areas.
Only USDA meat was served and continuous quality checks to the restaurants made by a traveling chef. A Simple management structure was put in place to manage the rest of the restaurants and with the integrations of control systems and goals made his business quite successful. The Restaurant technical specifications were the following: Restaurant Specs: 14 tables, 8 pax per table, Max sitting capacity 112 people, average time spend per table : 1hrs to 1.5hrs, Bar Specs; approx. 40 seats.
Marketing the restaurants in different approach (marketing based on visual ads without the name of restaurant) than the conventional played a key strategic move. However he also faced problems, one of them was the difficulty to get qualified employees (nowadays companies are facing the same issues across different industries in all sectors) ,also the numbers of certified chef was limiting the expansion rate of the restaurant.
The basic flow used at the restaurant is very linear and by not going into details can actually be seems very simple. The people arrived to the place; if it’s full they wait and queue on the bar where they already start to consume. Once one table is free the groups of consumers are moved to the table where they are ready to look into the limited menu. Time is saved by already having the drinks in their hand. Since the menu is limited only short time of decision is required. Once the choice is made, the chef which is already there and ready to perform starts the cooking food show. When the customers are done with the food they pay and leave. The cocktail lounge on weekend night besides being used as a queuing station is also used a place to know and meet other people.
I would recommend that in order to save time by paying and still being at the table, the customer should get a ticket and walk towards to the exit and before leaving the restaurant pay at a cashier. If they still want to consume drinks the bar they will have place as the table where they were sitting is free to receive new customers. I also would look into more statistics like: % of empty Table min or hrs. per week per day / week, statistics on what kind of menu or combination is used more (good for buying the right amount of supplies), statistics on queuing time and correlate it with drinks consumed, money spend, Analysis on the 7 types of waste.

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