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Kona Grill looks for new CEO

Kona Grill looks for new CEO

Marc A. Buehler is out, Michael A. Nahkunst will serve on interim basis

Kona Grill Inc., the 25-unit grill-sushi chain, said Monday it would be seeking a new president and chief executive to replace Marc A. Buehler, who is “leaving to pursue other interests.”

The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company said, in the interim, it has named company director Michael A. Nahkunst as president and CEO. Buehler had been with Kona since fall 2009.

Earlier: Kona Grill Taps Buehler as CEO

James R. Jundt, chairman of Kona Grill’s board, said in a statement: “On behalf of the board of directors and our entire organization, I want to thank Marc for his dedication and substantial contributions to Kona Grill's success. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

The company said Nahkunst, a principal with Bailiwick Capital Partners, will serve until a permanent successor is named. Nahkunst’s restaurant experience includes serving as the chief operating officer of both The Cheesecake Factory and BJ’s Restaurants and holding senior-level positions with Brinker International, the parent of Chili's Grill & Bar.

Kona Grill said it expects to take a one-time charge of about $300,000 in the second quarter related to Buehler’s departure.

For the first quarter ended March 31, Kona Grill reported a net loss of $100,000, or one cent per share, improved from a loss of $900,000, or 10 cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Sales in the first quarter were $23.6 million, up 12.3 percent from the prior year. Same-store sales increased 7.6 percent from the first quarter of 2010.

Kona Grill has units in 16 states.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

Follow him on Twitter: @ronruggless

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