Consumer >> CEO Interviews >> February 10, 2003

Joel Schwartz – Benihana Inc (bnhn)

JOEL A. SCHWARTZ, President and Chief Executive Officer of Benihana, Inc., has headed Benihana since its founding as an independent company in 1982. Under Mr. Schwartz, Benihana has achieved dramatic growth. It currently operates the largest chain of Asian restaurants in the US, including the largest teppanyaki and sushi restaurant chains under the names Benihana, Haru and Doraku by Benihana. Mr. Schwartz joined Benihana's predecessor, Benihana of Tokyo Inc., as Executive Vice President in 1980. Three years later Benihana Inc. was spun off as a separate entity and the following year, in 1983, the company went public. A Certified Public Accountant, Mr. Schwartz previously held a position with Touche Ross & Co., predecessor firm to Deloitte & Touche. As Chief Executive of Benihana, Mr. Schwartz has directed the company's growth, expansion, planning and policy-setting activities, which has resulted in Benihana becoming one of the country's most widely recognized brands. It has also resulted in significant expansion. From 11 restaurants when the chain started, there are now 54 Benihana teppanyaki restaurants, stretching from California to New York, and from Florida to Illinois, in addition to two Sushi Doraku by Benihana restaurants. In 1999, Benihana acquired 80% of the popular Haru sushi restaurant chain in New York City, which now totals five units. Mr. Schwartz holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Seton Hall University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the City Theatre in Miami and the Miami Coalition for a Drug-Free Community. Profile
TWST: Could we begin with a brief historical sketch of Benihana

and a picture of things as they are now?

Mr. Schwartz: Benihana has, I'm proud to say, been in business

for over 38 years, this