MIAMI Benihana Inc. on Monday named industry consultant Christopher Ames chief operating officer.
Ames, who has served as a consultant since July to the parent of three Japanese restaurant chains, replaces Juan Garcia in the role. Garcia will remain president of Benihana and also will now serve as chief administrative officer, the company said.
Prior to working with Benihana, Ames was chief operating officer of Cosi Inc. He also has served in senior operating positions at The Patina Group/Restaurant Associates, which is now called the Patina Restaurant Group, as well as Elephant Bar Restaurants Inc. and California Pizza Kitchen.
Benihana earlier this year launched a “Benihana Renewal Program” to reinvigorate the brand, improve customer perceptions and build traffic, including amenu overhaul, service and decor enhancements, and new loyalty programs.
“With our increased focus on operations, including the recently implemented Benihana Renewal Program, we view Chris’ leadership and extensive operations experience as a valuable asset to the company,” said Richard Stockinger, chief executive officer, who was previously president of the Patina Restaurant Group.
Benihana operates 98 restaurants under the Benihana Teppanyaki, Haru sushi and RA Sushi Bar brands. The company also franchises another 22 Benihana locations.