Kona Grill names temporary executive

Christi Hing, the struggling chain’s current CFO, was named "principal executive officer" of the struggling chain.
Kona Grill
Photograph: Kona Grill

Floundering chain Kona Grill Inc. appointed its chief financial officer to “principal executive officer” on Monday, marking the Asian-fusion brand’s latest in a string of top leadership changes in less than a year.

Christi Hing, currently Kona Grill’s CFO, will serve as the chain’s principal executive while it undertakes a chief executive search following the resignation of CEO and co-founder Marcus Jundt late last month, the company announced in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The struggling chain Monday also shuttered a location in a Chandler, Ariz., mall, according to local media reports.

Last week, Kona Grill—which has seen revenue drop 12.4% year over year and debts rise to $32 million—alerted the government it would be filing its annual earnings report late following Jundt’s resignation.

Jundt’s resignation, along with that of Berke Bakay—the company’s executive chairman, director and former CEO—comes as Kona Grill’s board appointed an investor to head the chain’s strategic alternatives committee. Shawn Hassel, co-founder and managing partner of Park City, Utah-based investment firm Bestige Holdings, will lead the company as it pursues a possible sale.

Jundt become co-CEO with Rainforest Cafe founder Steve Schussler in November. Less than two months later, Jundt became sole CEO.

Earlier this year, Nasdaq informed Kona Grill that it could be delisted from the stock exchange if it does not adhere to the market’s valuation rule. The compliance deadline for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company is June 26.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly called Christi Hing the interim CEO. She was named Kona's principal executive officer.

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