MIAMI — Restaurant chain Benihana will offer a full hibachi dining experience, including its trademark onion volcanoes, to customers parked curbside in the wake of the novel coronavirus.
“When the world is being ravaged by a global pandemic, sometimes the only thing that can brighten your day is a tiny volcano made from sliced onions angrily spewing smoke into the air,” declared Benihana CEO Tom Baldwin. “Benihana is committed to delivering an unforgettable culinary event as savory as the meal itself, as long as customers marvel at the display safely in their vehicles.”
“We ask for your patience while adjusting to this new convivial dining experience,” added Baldwin. “There may be the occasional dipping sauce mishap or lap burn from scalding Rocky’s Choice entrees, but these are small sacrifices we all need to make in order to keep moving forward.”
With chefs stationed six feet away from patrons per the CDC’s safe distance recommendation, many loyal customers were skeptical but pleasantly surprised.
“I didn’t think they could pull it off,” confessed loyal customer Frank Caratozzolo, who was interviewed from the window of his 2006 Honda Civic. “But when the chef started banging and twirling his stainless steel spatula while yelling jokes at my car, I knew this was the real deal. He even tried to get me to catch a piece of shrimp in my mouth, but it ended up stuck between my windshield wipers. I still would’ve eaten that sucker if a seagull didn’t snatch it before I got out of my car.”
Benihana’s success has caught the attention of other businesses impacted by the pandemic and its economic fallout.
“Running a business is always challenging, let alone a restaurant,” confessed Liz Velazquez, owner of local Mexican eatery El Sombrero Hambriento. “To stay competitive, we’re now offering curbside guacamole. And FYI, those mortar and pestles can ding a Tesla Model S like nobody’s business.”
Benihana has also partnered with Zoom to teleconference all nearby chefs to sing their signature birthday song to revelers and liars who just said it’s their birthday to get a free dessert.
Photo be Kennejima, Leonard J. DeFrancisci, and Kelly Cookson.