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Benihana: Loyalty programs have worked

Japanese restaurant operator posts improved sales, profit in 1Q

Strong guest counts and promotional programs, like its “Chef’s Table” loyalty program, fueled sales and profit gains at Benihana Inc. for its first quarter of 2012.

The Miami-based Japanese theme and sushi brand, which operates 96 restaurants nationwide, including 63 of its namesake restaurants, eight Haru sushi restaurants and 25 RA Sushi restaurants, posted its sixth consecutive quarter of same-store sales increases. In addition to its corporate locations, the company franchises 18 Benihana restaurants in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

For the quarter ended July 17, net income increased 18.8 percent to $1.9 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with $1.6 million, or 8 cents per share, for the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue rose 5.7 percent to $106.5 million.

System-wide same-store sales rose 6 percent for the quarter, reflecting increases of 8.6 percent at Benihana teppanyaki and 2.4 percent at RA Sushi, and a decrease of 1.9 percent at Haru.

Richard Stockinger, Benihana chief executive, cited improved non-weekend traffic, promotions aimed at families and children, and several membership promotional programs for the improved results.

For example, he cited the growth of “The Chef’s Table” program, which, he noted, “builds brand loyalty through value-based promotions.” In two years, the program has drawn 1.9 million members, Stockinger said. The Chef's Table is also increasing non-weekend traffic, with certificates that valid only Monday through Thursday, he noted.

To appeal to families and kids, Benihana developed “Kabuki Kids,” which has 200,000 members and “is helping to bring more and more family groups to Benihana,” Stockinger said.

Contact Alan Snel at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @AlanSnelNRN

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