Hiring Software Case Study – Kona Grill

In the competitive restaurant industry, having enough staff can make or break success. Even for restaurants with a popular menu and high potential like our client Kona Grill, a lack of management and hourly employees can slow growth. Systems like CareerPlug’s hiring software can help put your business back on track and even help you grow.

Over the past few years, we have worked closely with Kona Grill to increase applicant flow and help facilitate staffing for new restaurants.

Kona Grill and Their Hiring Background

A quick background on Kona Grill. Kona Grill is an upscale casual restaurant serving American cuisine, sushi, and cocktails. Founded in 1998, the company has grown to 46 restaurants in 23 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. Due to their quick growth, Kona Grill had a large hiring need. Their previous hiring software, PeopleMatter (now owned by Snag), however, failed to meet that need and Kona Grill struggled to make management and hourly hires. With their previous hiring platform, the company experienced a lack of applicant flow and had to pay to post to job boards, in addition to what they paid to PeopleMatter.

Kona Grill’s Hiring Needs

Kona Grill’s hiring needs boiled down to two essential items: increased applicant flow and reduced spending. The company needed to change their hiring strategy to get the management and hourly hires they needed. They knew they wanted to continue using a hiring software, but their future partner needed to show they could reach more potential applicants without Kona Grill having to dig deep into their budget. Kona Grill also knew the platform they used needed to have the hiring tools to reach their ideal candidates, tailor their job application to that group, and increase staffing across multiple locations.

A Hiring Software Solution for Kona Grill

With their rapid growth, we wanted to work with Kona Grill to give them the results they needed, fast. Within the first two years of the partnership, management hires have increased 45%. Kona Grill has enjoyed receiving 400% more applicants than their previous provider after switching to CareerPlug’s hiring software. Kona Grill attributes this to the customizable workflow and job templates, free job syndication, and personal account manager all offered by CareerPlug’s hiring system. They have found the mobile optimized platform and Spanish application option, a key edge in the restaurant industry, extremely useful as well. Through CareerPlug’s competitive pricing and offerings, Kona Grill was able to reduce spend while increasing applicant flow.

In addition to offering a strong hiring solution to Kona Grill, we have worked with the company to create a path for future success through customized reporting, allowing them to track metrics to continue to make improvements. While this mostly involves the product, our process helps to ensure clients like Kona Grill are in the best position to succeed. Our hiring software is supported through a dedicated account manager to help clients maximize and optimize their experience and a support team focused on uncovering answers to questions.

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Steve Fowler

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Christina Waite

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Taylor Coleman

Tier 2 Manager

Al Foote

Consultant Manager

Sydney Kidd

Tier 1 Manager

Nicolle Gatlin

Manager of Partner Success

Aiden Kinney

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Joe Lepis

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Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.


Brandy Lee

Business Intelligence Manager

Eric Morales

Manager of Account Executives

Kirsten Penaloza

Director of Client Experience

Zach Garcia

Senior Manager of Operations

Tulay Solak

HR Manager

Tyler Berndsen

Manager of Partnership Account Executives

Ashley Johnson

Senior Manager of Partner Services

Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

Kate Sensmeier

VP Marketing

Ashley Garia

Director of Product Marketing

Canaan Davis

Director of Engineering

Teresa Hall

Director of UX & Product Design

Brad Pilot

Senior Director of Sales

Leslie Chamberlain

Senior Director of Client Experience

Natalie Morgan

Senior Director of People

Andrew Robinson III

Vice President of Product and Engineering

Chris Igou

VP of Business Development

Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

In her non-work life, Jenny enjoys time with her family, playing drums and performing with the Austin Samba School, and finding excuses to be on the lake.

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.