After three months of daytime construction at Benihana in Santa Monica – while it remained open for lunch – the Japanese restaurant at 1447 Fourth Street officially debuted its redesigned sushi bar and cocktail lounge on its mezzanine level Tuesday night.
The planning for the project began in the summer of 2010, with construction beginning on May 16 this year.
Jeannie Means, Benihana Vice President of Marketing, said the biggest challenge during the project was minimizing the affect of the construction on the guests in the downstairs area of the restaurant.
“We had to construct a barrier to keep most of the dust on the second level and we had to do all the noisy and dusty work before the restaurant opened for lunch,” Means said.
“Other than that, the work was in a separate area from the operating restaurant and it didn’t impact the operation.”
To conceptualize and execute the redesign, Benihana partnered with Innovation & Design in Architecture, a full service architectural design firm comprised of award-winning architects and designers.
All the construction had to be done between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. A project like this would normally be completed at night when the restaurant is closed.
Means said the lounge opened to the public in August. She said guests had enjoy enjoyed many things about the redesigned mezzanine level.
“The new modern design provides several seating options along the banquette, the tables, or the sushi bar,” she said. “The lighting and ambiance is inviting and provides an ideal setting for enjoying Benihana’s sushi and cocktails.”
The mezzanine level has seating for 50 in a semi-circular loft overlooking Benihana’s famous teppanyaki tables on the ground floor dining room.
The 844 square-feet space is divided into a full sushi and lounge area, which has been designed to encourage after-work drinks and meetings for friends.
The lounge menu includes an array of wines from around the world, premium sake, Japanese and domestic beer, and Benihana specialty cocktails such as the Mango Saketini, Benihana Mojito, and Blue Ocean Punch Bowl.
Happy Hour is available each Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with drink specials plus hand rolls, specialty rolls, nigiri rolls and Benihana bites starting at $2.
For more information, visit www.benihana.com.
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