It seems especially so for birthdays
The Japanese restaurant chain called Benihana was started by Hiroaki Aoki. Rocky Aoki, as he was known, was a Japanese American amateur wrestler and restauranteur.
Hiroaki Aoki was born in Tokyo...Aoki and some friends started a rock and roll band called Rowdy Sounds, though Aoki eventually abandoned music for athletics. He would later explain, "I play bass. But I tell you why I change to wrestling: No good on tempo."
Aoki attended Keio University, where he competed in track and field, karate, and wrestling before being expelled for fighting. He qualified for the 1960 Summer Olympics for wrestling in Rome but did not compete. However, he later toured the United States and was undefeated in the wrestling 112-pound flyweight class.
Aoki was offered wrestling scholarships from several different American colleges. He attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and later transferred to CW Post College on Long Island.
He moved to New York City, going on to win the United States flyweight title in 1962, 1963, and 1964. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995. [Wikipedia]
Aoki worked with an ice cream truck that he rented in New York while he studied restaurant management at New York City Community College. He had saved $10,000 by the time he graduated in 1963, and he convinced his father to invest in the first Benihana. It was a four-table teppanyaki restaurant where chefs cook the food in front of patrons. That was the start of something which turned out to be very big.
Benihana Restaurants have a large grill with seating around it for eight guests. The chef stands at the grill and cooks the food in front of the people. If there are not eight people who come to the restaurant to eat together, they put smaller groups together.
The chefs put on a show as they prepare the food on the grill. They perform stunts with knives, eggs, and various foods to the delight of those who are dining at Benihana Restaurants throughout the world. The chain has been very successful and is very large now.
The Benihana Restaurants have been around for a long time and are a favorite place to celebrate birthdays. The person who is celebrating a birthday is given a dish of ice cream with a candle on it. They have the Happy Birthday song sung to them and receive a photo remembrance of the occasion.
Rocky Aoki passed away in New York City at the age of 69, but his legacy lives on through the Benihana Restaurants throughout the United States and various other parts of the world.