Entrepreneur To Transplant 130 Workers


Mikiyo Yonemura of Phoenix says he has big plans for the Rim country.

He plans to relocate 130 people from Phoenix to Payson to work in the local restaurant that he's trying to buy. The deal is in escrow and its closing is "imminent," he said Thursday.

With his venture, he plans to eliminate tips and start his employees at $9.50 an hour.

With housing at a premium in Payson, Yonemura said he plans to build affordable housing within six months for his new employees and the community at large.

And he's warned Payson School Superintendent Herb Weissenfels that his employees will flood the Payson School District with more than 200 new students. To help the already crowded district accommodate those children, Yonemura said he's willing to give the district $700,000 -- $400,000 for modular classrooms and $300,000 for teacher salaries.

He also said he'll pledge up to $1.5 million to the district to compensate for the sudden influx of students.

"If it all goes according to his plan, we'll gratefully accept the money," Weissenfels said.

Yonemura, who said he graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Paris, said he's a former fast-food restaurant manager and a former minor partner in several restaurants around the country. With his Payson restaurant, he plans to emphasize high-quality service, specialized Italian cuisine and an intimate atmosphere.

He plans to build a training facility in the Rim country, he said, to make sure his staff can provide customers with the highest level of service. All of his employees will be required to attend company training courses ranging from three weeks to 18 months.

Yonemura said he expects to invest a total of $21 million in the Rim country, and said his enterprise will follow a basic Japanese business formula.

"Anything our business might need would become a subsidiary," he said. The restaurant is the core acquisition, he said, and the lounge, off-track betting operation and housing development will be subsidiaries.

The president of Yonemura Corporation and its subsidiaries, Yonemura said an investment group is providing a portion of the financial backing for his venture.

Yonemura and the owners of the restaurant he's trying to buy are barred by a nondisclosure clause in their contract from revealing the details of the sale until after escrow closes.

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