Benihana is a Doral, Florida-based American company that owns or franchises 116 Japanese cuisine restaurants around the world including its flagship Benihana Teppanyaki brand as well as the Haru (fusion cuisine), and RA Sushi restaurants. It was founded by Hiroaki Aoki. The company was founded in 1964 on West 56th Street in New York City by 25-year-old Hiroaki 'Rocky' Aoki. Aoki, a wrestler who had qualified for but did not attend the 1960 Summer Olympics started the restaurant with $10,000 earned from driving an ice cream truck in Harlem. The first restaurant, Benihana of Tokyo, was named for the red Safflower that was the name for the coffee shop owned by his parents in Tokyo. Aoki's concept was for the meals to be theatrically prepared by a knife-wielding, joke-telling chef at a teppanyaki table surrounded by a wooden eating surface in front of the guests.
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