PE-backed Benihana names Baldwin as CEO and president

Benihana Inc, which is backed by Angelo, Gordon & Co, has appointed Thomas J. Baldwin CEO and president. Baldwin is the former chairman, CEO and president of Morton’s Restaurant Group. Based in Aventura, Florida, Benihana is an operator of Japanese Teppanyaki and Sushi restaurants with 100 restaurants nationwide.


AVENTURA, Fla., Aug. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Board of Directors of Benihana Inc. (“Benihana”), operator of Benihana, RA Sushi and Haru Sushi restaurants, today announced that it named Thomas J. Baldwin Chief Executive Officer and President, effective immediately. Baldwin currently serves on the Board of Directors of Benihana and is an advisor to Angelo, Gordon & Co., Benihana’s principal investor. He will be based in Aventura, FL and responsible for Benihana’s 100 Benihana, RA Sushi and Haru Sushi restaurants as well as the 10 Benihana franchised restaurants.

Baldwin brings more than three decades of restaurant industry expertise to lead Benihana, having served in senior executive roles at both publicly-listed and privately-held companies. He was Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Morton’s Restaurant Group. During his twenty year tenure at Morton’s, he led the company through two IPOs and is recognized throughout the restaurant industry for his role in building Morton’s The Steakhouse into a global iconic brand and category leader. Throughout his career, he has also been active in multiple private equity-backed restaurant brands.

Richard Leonard, Managing Director in Angelo, Gordon & Co.’s Private Equity Group, said, “We are very excited to have an executive of Tom’s caliber lead Benihana, RA Sushi and Haru. Having worked directly with Tom for years, we have seen first-hand his commitment to fostering superior people-focused cultures and brands and creating unparalleled guest experiences, while delivering uncompromising quality standards, consistent execution and creative marketing. He brings extensive domestic and international experience in growth-oriented branded restaurants, and expertise in strategy, people resources, operations, marketing and real estate development that we are confident will further strengthen Benihana, RA Sushi and Haru for many years to come.”

Commenting on his appointment, Baldwin said, “I’m enthusiastic to lead the very talented Benihana team and these world-class brands into an important phase of development and growth. Benihana, RA Sushi and Haru are well-known for their creative and innovative menus and memorable dining experiences. As we build our business with great guest experiences, open new restaurants and enhance our brand value with our guests, I know we will be able to capitalize on the powerful growth opportunity in front of us.”

Leonard added, “On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Steve Shlemon for his many contributions and wish him continued success in his future endeavors.”

About Benihana
Headquartered in Aventura, Florida, Benihana Inc. is the nation’s leading operator of Japanese Teppanyaki and Sushi restaurants with 100 restaurants nationwide, including 66 Benihana restaurants, seven Haru Sushi restaurants and 27 RA Sushi restaurants. In addition, 10 franchised Benihana restaurants are operating in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. To learn more about Benihana Inc. and its three restaurant brands, please view the corporate video at

About Angelo, Gordon & Co.
Angelo, Gordon & Co., L.P. is a privately held limited partnership founded in November 1988, and currently manages approximately $26 billion. The Firm’s investment focus centers around three core competencies – credit, real estate, and private equity. Angelo, Gordon has approximately 380 employees, approximately 150 of whom are investment professionals, and is headquartered in New York, with associated offices elsewhere in the US, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit