Sample Case Analysis on Benihana of Tokyo

Benihana of Tokyo Case Analysis

Benihana of Tokyo is a chain of restaurants in Japan. Benihana of Tokyo started as a single restaurant in Manhattan in 1964 by Hiroaki (Rocky) Aoki. Since its establishment, the restaurants have received a significant growth to become a chain of 15 restaurants located in major cities of United States of America. Rocky the president of Benihana of Tokyo began the idea of establishing a restaurant when he visited America in 1959. He realized that there were several opportunities in the hotel business in US than in Japan. As a result, he decided to join the school of restaurant management in order to enhance his skills in restaurant management. Rocky discovered that American enjoyed eating in exotic surroundings but were deeply mistrustful of exotic foods. He also discovered that that American like seeing their food being prepared. Using the knowledge he learned in school and the experience in the hotel industry Rocky opened a small restaurant in the Westside using his saving and borrowed capital. The restaurants flourished well, and it was able to pay itself in six months. This opened other opportunities for Rocky to open other restaurants in deferent parts of the country (Klug, Earl 49).

Initial strategy for Benihana

The success of Benihana of Tokyo in the restaurant industry is attributed to the strategies laid out by Rocky.  Initially, Rocky realized a number of problems that were facing restaurant industry in the US. Some of the major problems were the availability of labor and high labor cost. To address the problem, one of the key strategies applied in the restaurant was the incorporation of hibachi table concept that Rocky had borrowed from his father who had a chain of a restaurant in Japan. The hibachi tumble replaced the convection kitchen, and this reduced the number of workers in the restaurant. The hibachi table enabled the restaurant to offered efficient services and still keeps the labor cost to 10% to 12% of the gross sale. The arrangement also helped to increase the proportion of floor area devoted to the dining space (Klug, Earl 49).

Rocky also discovered that food storage and wastage contribute significantly to the overhead of the restaurant. To tackle the issue, Rocky decided to reduce the menu to only three foods which include steak, chicken, and shrimp. The strategy ensures that there are no waste of food and reduce food cost by 30% to % of food sales. The other strategy applied in the restaurant that ensured its success was the maintenance of historic authenticity. The furnishing of the restaurants such as walls, ceilings, artifacts and decorative lights were all imported from Japan.

Rocky also had an expansion strategy that increased the success of Benihana of Tokyo. After the establishment of the first restaurant on the west side in 1964, he opened another restaurant on the east side to cater for the high demand on the west side which prospered within few months. Since then, Rocky opened other restaurants in other parts of the country including Chicago and Las Vegas. Rock also used the franchise to expand his business and by 1970 he had sold six franchises in different cities. However, most of the franchises were unsuccessful due to the economic downturn and poor management from investors who lacked experience in the hotel business. The American investors also found it difficult to relate to Japanese staff. Hence, rock decided to stop the franchise.

Other strategies used by rock to ensure the success of the restaurants include site selection, training and structure and advertisement. Benihana restaurants are located in an area with the high population to ensure people access lunch and dinner at the restaurants. Most restaurants are found in business district areas while others are in the residential area.  The restaurant also ensures that their chefs are highly trained to enhance their skills and enable them improve the quality of services. Initially chefs were imported from Japan through trade treaty agreements. However, the training of chef in the US has been a continuous process. Benihana of Tokyo also has a well-defined structure to ensure effective management. Each restaurant had it own independent management structure that controls its operations. The restaurant has also laid a management system that ensure smooth running of the restaurants as well helping the restaurants to achieve their objectives.  The management has set a bonus plan system to motivate sales in all restaurants. There are also accounting systems that help to monitor and evaluate costs. The restaurant also conducts advertisements and public relations to attract customers and enhance its brand.

One of the big challenges facing Benihana of Tokyo is expansion. The restaurant realizes the need to expand its operations, but there are several limitations that face the expansion goal. Some of the limitations include failure of a franchise, limited staffs, and high cost of setting up new restaurants. Despite the limitations there are three options for expansion that can be applied by the company which include expanding primary market in US, extending to secondary market overseas through joint ventures and opening a small Japanese fast food restaurant to cater for young generation.


Changes Required in Opening a Small Japanese Fast Food Restaurants using the 7-S model

As indicated one of the expansion option of Banihana of Tokyo is to open a small Japanese restaurant. When Benihana choose to open a small Japanese restaurants, various changes will be undertaken to its strategy, structure, system, skill, staffs, style and share value(Hanafizadeh, and Ravasan 23). These changes will include:


The strategy to open a small, fast food restaurant will change the current strategy of serving middle-income customers. The fast food restaurant will target young generation who consume fast food most of the time.


The decision to open a fast food restaurant will change the structure of the organization. The floor layout must be changed since fast food does not require large dining space. The management of the fast food will also change since fast food restaurant only require a simple management due to reduced number of staffs (Hanafizadeh, and Ravasan 23).


Fast food restaurants require new management systems, accounting systems, and order management systems (Feurer, Chaharbaghi 59).


New skills will be required in preparation and service of fast foods. To enhance the skills training will be conducted to the new chefs in the fast food restaurants.


The management style of fast food restaurant is different from that of dining restaurant. Therefore, Benihana must establish new styles of doing things in the fast food restaurants


Fast food restaurants require less staff to run the operations. The main staff includes chefs and cashier. Therefore, there will be changes to the staff members of the restaurant.

Shared Value

Benihana aims at make people happy by maintaining originality in their menu. However, by opening a fast food restaurant, it will change its value of originality and increase it menu to include American foods










Works cited

Feurer, Rainer, and Kazem Chaharbaghi. “Strategy development: past, present and future.” Training for quality 5.2 (1997): 58-70.

Hanafizadeh, Payam, and Ahad Zare Ravasan. “A McKinsey 7S model-based framework for ERP readiness assessment.” International Journal of Enterprise Information Systems (IJEIS) 7.4 (2011): 23-63.

Klug, John, and W. Earl Sasser. Benihana of Tokyo. Harvard Business School Pub., 1998.