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Food & Drink

In latest Hi Felicia drama, Oakland restaurant owner apologizes for ‘mistakes’

Imana, owner of Hi Felicia, stands outside of the recently closed Oakland restaurant on April 3, 2022. | Source: Lance Yamamoto for The Standard

The scandal-clad Oakland restaurant Hi Felicia closed in May amid allegations the work environment was toxic and employees were mistreated. Now owner Imana—who only goes by her first name—has published a lengthy public apology

The queer Black chef took to Instagram to recognize past “mistakes” in running her business, which survived for a little over a year. 

“My statements publicly have been defensive, erratic, and irresponsible, and I want to say I’m sorry,” Imana wrote. “I am an imperfect and flawed person, and made a lot of mistakes.” 

While Imana said she wanted to create a restaurant environment without a hierarchy, she admitted the “execution did not happen.” 

The chef pointed to her own past traumatic experiences in the restaurant industry and cited her ignorance and lack of boundaries in running a business. 

Yet Imana also defended her buzzy restaurant—which was at one point in search of a Michelin star—and wrote of her pride in running the establishment, noting it was a complicated and nuanced workplace. 

Oakland restaurant Hi Felicia at 326 23rd St. in Oakland is pictured on May 25, 2023. | Source: RJ Mickelson/The Standard

The response to Imana’s apology on social media was mixed, with some offering their support and others claiming she should have included the voices of the allegedly exploited employees and not focused on her own hurt. 

Julie Zigoris can be reached at jzigoris@sfstandard.com