Kobe Steak House of Japan
Jim Hamlin and Jim West
ABOUT THE OWNER
Jim Hamlin and Jim West are brothers in law and have known each other for over 40 years. Jim Hamlin was born in Winfield, KS and still resides there. Jim West was born in Hutchinson, KS and is now a resident of Winfield. They both came from their family owned beef business after the business was sold in 2000.
ABOUT THE BUSINESS
Kobe Steak House of Japan started as one man’s dream of the American success story. Nearly 50 years ago Kumeo Komazaki, known to his many friends and customers as “Koma”, moved to the United States from his native Japan.
Koma’s first chef experience in the United States was with the Benihana Corporation in New York City. He admired the business concept practiced by Benihana and the model for Kobe Steak House of Japan was envisioned. Koma had always been uncomfortable in New York so he began a search for a new city in which to start his business. As luck is sometimes better than skill, he noticed the name of the city Wichita, Kansas on a box of beef delivered to Benihana and the rest of the story has been a part of Wichita history for the past 40 years.
The friendly bustling atmosphere of Wichita and Koma’s dedication to hard work combined to make KOBE a very popular dining destination. As this popularity grew he was able to open successful restaurants in St Louis, MO in 1991 and Omaha, NE in 1996.
In late 2001 Koma was contemplating retirement and contacted his accountant with the desire to sell the restaurants. This accountant contacted business acquaintances Jim Hamlin and Jim West to see if there was interest in the restaurants and after lengthy negotiations the purchase was completed in August 2002. The next three years contained a “vertical” learning curve both in the restaurant business and the Asian cultures, but it was successful.
The new vision of the company was to retain the excitement of the hibachi dining and to do for Japanese hibachi what P.F.Chang did for Chinese: make it upscale, accessible, and fun. To that end all restaurants have new contemporary locations and facilities.
WHY WE TOOK OVER THE BUSINESS
After the sale of the family business Jim and Jim worked for the new owners. It was quickly apparent that the new ownership was on the wrong path and they started looking for new business opportunities. KOBE was presented to them and they decided to take a leap of faith in their abilities to run the restaurants. Subsequent to their departure the new owners of the family business bankrupted the company.
MOST POPULAR ITEM
The FILET AND SHRIMP combination is our most popular dinner, however our FRIED RICE is raved about by all our guests!
Read past Get To Know features here!
Want to be in our weekly Get To Know feature? You can apply here or email us at [email protected]. We are primarily focused on restaurants, food trucks, and leisure & entertainment businesses aimed at giving Wichita something to do. We understand advertising isn’t cheap and building exposure can be tough, so we do this free of charge to support businesses in the community.