The owner of the breakout pandemic fine dining pop-up turned permanent restaurant, Hi Felicia, announced on May 24 that she is shutting down the establishment immediately. Chef Imana, who goes by her first name only, said the restaurant was “violently broken into,” detailing a destructive burglary which included a shattered front door and a broken cash register, among other things. “Last night wasn’t a coincidence, it was a message to me that this chapter of my life is over,” she wrote in the post.
The Oakland Police Department confirmed to Eater that at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 24, three suspects broke the glass door of the restaurant, entered, and attempted to take a safe from Hi Felicia. Upon arriving at the business, officers “observed three individuals outside the business with a large object that was later identified as a safe.” The department states the suspects then fled the area in two vehicles. “Everything in the restaurant is in disarray,” Hi Felicia’s Instagram post goes on to say about the burglary, noting that it will take a long time to clean up the aftermath.
Hi Felicia first began as a pop-up during the pandemic, operating out of Imana’s Oakland apartment balcony and attracting an array of guests, including well-known Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters. The pop-up attracted plenty of press in those early days for its multi-course fine dining supper club series, and eventually led to Imana opening her first restaurant in downtown Oakland at 326 23rd Street in April 2022. The crew at Hi Felicia was open about their ambitions to earn a Michelin Guide star with its “vulgar” food and style. While they didn’t get a star, they earned a spot in the guide during their first year, in November 2022.
The restaurant went through some recent changes in menu format before the sudden closure, adding an a la carte option to its $120 tasting menu at the start of May. When asked by Resy about an article criticizing Bay Area dining culture as being in a “bad place,” Imana said that while she disagrees with various points made in the story, “I feel like the main takeaway from the article is how hard it is to operate a business in the most expensive city in the country.”
The message from Hi Felicia’s closure announcement went on to say that Imana will prepare the restaurant space for her next venture, a “sleek [and] sexy” wine bar. It’s a fitting pivot, given that Imana opened natural wine bar Sluts in San Francisco this past February, complete with stripper poles and a menu consisting of convenience store favorites like Flaming Hot Cheetos and Lunchables. That bar began as a natural wine pop-up at the Hi Felicia restaurant space before spinning off into its own location across the Bay Bridge at 1116 Folsom Street in SoMa. Imana goes on to say that she is taking the lessons learned from Hi Felicia into her next project. “I know I could keep going,” Imana wrote, “and keep fighting, but I owe it to myself to honor my feelings, and I know that it is time. When one door closes another opens.”