CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — This weekend will be your last chance to see steam rise out of an onion volcano at Benihana in Citrus Heights.
You might call it the last supper Sunday — and the Benihana faithful are already making the journey there. On Wednesday night there was a 45-minute wait with a reservation at the restaurant.
“It’s super fun,” said Heidi Jones. Jones brought her baby boy for his birthday. He is all grown up now.
“That one right there (my son) for his fifth birthday party. He wanted to go to Benihana and then go watch a movie,” said Jones.
As word spread that the single location in Sacramento would be closing, fans of the fun-filled hibachi grill came from near and far.
“We used to go to Concord to the Benihana there before this opened,” Sammy Cemo said.
His wife Kim said, “We have been coming here since the kids were little. We even followed a waiter Polly since the beginning.”
Another couple came from Yuba City was glad to get one more celebration in before it closes.
“I asked for his birthday where did he want to go and he said Benihana, so we had to come here,” said one woman.
“I am kind of bummed,” her husband said.
Guests aren’t the only ones disappointed.
Wesley Valentine, a line cook, said “it’s a major setback.”
He enjoyed prepping dishes at the iconic Japanese restaurant. “It’s all about putting on a show and dazzling customers,” said Valentine.
He says corporate came Tuesday and told employees there are no plans to open another restaurant in the area. The Benihana lease ran out and redevelopment is planned at Sunrise Village Center where it’s located.
“We are very nostalgic,” said Heidi Jones.
People reminisced about the good times, the good eats, and good company one final time.
“It’s a very bonding experience, especially sitting at a table with people you don’t know,” said Jones.
Staff said they could apply for jobs in Concord, but for many, that isn’t practical.
A Benihana spokesperson issues the following statement on Thursday:
“Our lease at Benihana Sacramento has expired and the landlord is redeveloping the center. Our last day of service will be on February 23. Sacramento is a great city and we would like to return when we find an ideal location.
All of our Sacramento employees have been offered employment at our other Benihana restaurants.
We thank every guest and every one of our valued employees.”