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MIAMI—With customer traffic up and checks remaining healthy, Benihana is slowly expanding all of its three concepts, with a possibility of more than 100 Ra Sushi restaurants across the US, executives said during a second-quarter 2007 conference call.

The company currently has 13 Ra Sushi units, which is just the beginning for the chain, said Joel A. Schwartz, president and CEO. “We believe we are only in the early stages of the rollout, and we are preparing for that,” said Schwartz.

The company is developing seven units under its three banners: two Benihana teppanyaki restaurants, one Haru unit, and four RA Sushi restaurants. Only one unit, however, will open during the remainder of fiscal 2007: a Benihana in Maple Grove, MN, in March.

For fiscal 2008, current plans call for two to four new Benihana units and six to eight Ra Sushi restaurants.

In the second quarter, total restaurant sales were $58.6 million, up 7.9% from the previous year. Company-wide comparable restaurant sales rose 9.8%. Net income dropped slightly, with the company posting earnings of $2.6 million compared with $2.8 million for the same quarter last year.

Benihana operates 79 restaurants nationwide, including 59 Benihana teppanyaki restaurants, seven Haru sushi restaurants, and 13 RA Sushi Bar restaurants. In addition, 17 franchised Benihana teppanyaki restaurants operate in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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