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Longtime Lumberyard staff members launch website to match restaurants with applicants


A year and a half ago, Emily Johnson and Jeane Parel, longtime servers at Lumberyard Restaurant, came up with the idea for a restaurant hiring website for Orange County. As a result, Hire Lilo (named after Emily’s two dogs Lily and Lola) was founded. Emily’s dad is Hire Lilo’s third partner/owner. 

It’s like a matchmaking service for applicants and restaurants.

Emily says, “My co-founder, Jeane, and I have worked in the restaurant industry for years and wanted to create a place where restaurants and applicants could find their perfect match.” 

Emily has been in the industry for a total of 18 years (11 at Lumberyard) and Jeane for 12 years (five at Lumberyard). 

Website introduced in June

A year in the making, Hire Lilo was launched on June 30 of this year and Emily admits, “Launching this website in the middle of a pandemic that is affecting restaurants so greatly has been a challenge.” 

Jeane agrees, “When the stay-in-place order happened, it was out of our control. Restaurants were acting as two restaurants – outside and inside – and then it was reduced to takeout. It was a timing thing. Restaurants were nervous about hiring additional staff amid changing restrictions.” 

“They had hired so much staff. And it was unknown how long it would last,” Emily adds.

Of course, now with the restrictions back in place as of Sunday, the challenge is even more daunting.

Longtime Lumberyard staff

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Hire Lilo co-founders Jeane Parel (on left) and Emily Johnson at Lumberyard

It took a year to build the website to their satisfaction. Emily says, “I’m OCD, and it took a while.”

There are other sites with job postings – but not with all the features Hire Lilo offers. Emily and Jeane wanted to build into their website the features that were missing in similar websites.

Hire Lilo applicants are offered free job postings. As for the restaurants, they were initially given a free promo code, and now Emily and Jeane are extending the promo code so restaurants can reuse it and have a free posting for a period of time.

Hire Lilo also provides applicants a free resume builder. Another specific feature they added is the mandatory shift requirements hours/days for the position offered, so the applicant can determine right away if the job is a fit. Additionally, for convenience, appointments for interviews can be made on the site.

Spreading the word

To get the news out about Hire Lilo, Emily and Jeane have used social media – mostly Facebook and Instagram – to spread the word, but when it was first launched, they used good old-fashioned footwork. 

In one day, driving from Fashion Island through Laguna, they hit 60 restaurants, speaking directly to managers about Hire Lilo.

Jeane says, “We did the ‘boots on the ground’ approach. A face-to-face connection makes a lasting impression.”

They also do card mailings and have crafted an eye-catching mailout. 

Their original business plan included visiting colleges, but then the schools closed, and that source fell by the wayside.

It’s apparent that both ladies love the industry and all it entails, which was the original reason for founding the website. 

Jeane says, “Locals are now permanent in our lives. We’ve seen their kids grow up. That’s what makes the industry so special.”

An industry that they hope Hire Lilo will help stay intact.

For more information about Hire Lilo, go to


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