MIAMI—The early results are coming in on the new Benihana store design, and the numbers are good, said senior executives at the fourth-quarter conference call.

Traffic is up approximately 50% at the recently renovated Short Hills, NJ, unit, reported Joel Schwartz, president and CEO.

“The senior leadership team takes a long-term view of what is best for this company,” Schwartz said. “The strategy we’ve devised with our renovation program and new prototype is the best way to improve shareholder value.”

The New Jersey restaurant was the first to open under a $40 million to $50 million remodeling and redesign program initiated to keep the 41-year-old chain competitive. Restaurants in Cleveland and Memphis also have reopened in the new design. Approximately 20 more units also are to be rehabbed, including units in Anaheim and Indianapolis that will reopen in the current quarter.

“Once the renovations are complete, the majority of Benihana units will be less than five years old,” Schwartz said.

Benihana operates 75 restaurants nationwide, including 57 Benihana teppanyaki restuarants, 11 RA Sushi restaurants and seven Haru sushi restaurants. Three more Benihana restaurants, one Haru, and five RA Sushis are under development. The company also has franchised units in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.

For the fiscal fourth quarter 2006, total revenues increased 11.8%, to $61.2 million, compared with $54.8 million for the same period in 2005. Comparable restaurant sales rose 10.3%. Net income was $3.9 million, up 75.7% from the previous year, which had extraordinary charges.

Total revenues for fiscal 2006 were $245.6 million, up 12.5% from the previous year. Comparable restaurant sales rose 8.7%. Net income was $14.6 million, up 86.2 % from the previous year.

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