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Benihana Q1 profit cut in half

MIAMI Benihana Inc., which operates and franchises Japanese-themed and sushi restaurants, said Monday that its fiscal first-quarter net income was cut in half on weak sales the company blamed on the U.S. recession.

Benihana’s profit for the quarter ended July 19 fell 50.2 percent to $1.1 million, or 5 cents per share, from $2.2 million, or 12 cents per chare, the same quarter last year.

Latest quarter revenue rose 1.6 percent to $96.0 million, on the openings of three new restaurants. Same-store sales fell 10.1 percent companywide, falling 13.1 percent at Benihana Teppanyaki and 14.8 percent at Haru. Same-store sales at the company’s RA Sushi concept increased 3.5 percent.

Richard C. Stockinger, Benihana’s chief executive, said in a statement: “We are operating our business in perhaps the most difficult environment we have seen in decades, and the economic downturn continues to take its toll on our industry.”

Earlier in August, Benihana had announced a program to rebuild sales momentum with a renewed focus on the quality of food and beverages, a raised the level of service and increased branding and marketing efforts.

In the first quarter, the company opened RA Sushi units in Atlanta and Houston and a Benihana Teppanyaki in Orlando, Fla. On Sunday, Aug. 30, the company closed its Benihana unit in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C.

Benihana owns 98 restaurants in the United States, including 64 Benihana units, 25 RA Sushi Bar units and nine Haru locations. It franchises 22 Benihana restaurants as well.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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