Alexander McNabb

Benihana: Where Winning Means Losing

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You might recall the brouhaha around Benihana Kuwait, the restaurant that sued blogger Mark Makhoul for posting a mildly critical review of the restaurant. Mark, the man behind uber-popular Kuwaiti blog 2:48AM, defended himself in court and won the case.

Benihana Kuwait, a licensee of US based Benihana of Tokyo (which has maintained an atrocious silence throughout), has appealed the Kuwaiti court’s ruling and has won on appeal.

The whole sad incident has already created massive, global negative coverage online for Benihana. The story was picked up by bloggers in the Middle East as well as by a number of top global websites and media. Benihana, both franchisee and franchisor, could hardly have managed the whole sorry incident more cack-handedly. It’s even recorded on the company’s Wikipedia entry.

Mark’s update post about the case is linked here. The court has awarded damages against Mark of KD1,000 – a pretty paltry sum, but an award nonetheless. He’s going to take it to appeal because it’s about more than KD 1,000, it’s about consumers’ right to hold and freely express an opinion and I must say in his shoes I’d do exactly the same thing.

What amazes me is how utterly, unbelievably stupid Benihana Kuwait is being in pursuing this tawdry case – and how idiotic Benihana of Tokyo is being by allowing these morons to drag its name through the mud like this.

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