In 1942 my grandfather, Yunosuke Aoki, opened a small coffee shop in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. As a tap dancer, finding a job during the war was difficult. After the war he dedicated himself to his coffee shop; a natural endeavor thanks to his samurai heritage. Yunosuke Aoki served his customers in those difficult times by bicycling ten miles every morning to get sugar rations, which he provided for free in his shop.
This shop was named “Benihana” for the wild red flowers that grew along the building. He made a living from the shop, but also “made friends by serving food”, an admirable mission for one with an entertainer’s heart. His son (and my father) Rocky Aoki brought this same spirit to America when he opened his own restaurant, also named “Benihana”.
I opened the Blue Tree Café to honor my grandfather’s enterprising spirit. The name of the café, Blue Tree, translates to Aoki in Japanese, a testament of respect for my grandfather. We are honored to serve you and are committed to continue the legacy of service exemplified by my ancestors.
- Kevin Aoki