• The Story Behind the Story Behind the Re-Opening of Hibiscus

    I’m going to keep this one short and sweet and also apologize for not writing this sooner.    So a long time ago I wanted to go to Hibiscus just after walking by and seeing it and its logo and wanting to eat there.  I thought it was Indian food because of the flower (thought wrong) and never actually ate there before its closing.  I did, however, meet the former chef at the Oakland Farmer’s Market just before its closing and was told she was departing for better pastures.   I figured that was going to be the only thing I ever knew about Hisbiscus of Oakland.  Oh, how wrong I was.  I would actually get to see how a restaurant really works and it didn’t seem pretty.

    Without too much drama it basically went like this.

    Chef comes in with starry eyes and big hopes to make a name of himself and a restaurant that already had a good name.

    Owners come in with business slit eyes and big dreams in hopes a chef would create a nice menu and then remove him quickly.

    Why remove him not even 1 week into the restaurant being opened? Good question.  From what I know from knowing one side of this story pretty well, it seemed a little planned and was definitely sad to see.  Especially after watching one chef putting his heart, passion and un-paid hours into not only his menu, but also into reaching out to local vendors and farmers to get locally sourced foods.  It seemed to be everything that is right for a restaurant like that, but I guess not.

    The trouble should have been evident when I went to it’s big re-opening night to support the chef and see how it all went.  What I saw was maybe 1 real server and all the owners working as the servers.  If this was a mistake, shame for them.  If this was a way to save money, shame on them too.  Playing around a little with running food nights, I know now that if you are in charge of the show you better be watching the show.  Taking up any task will take you away from the big picture and it was clearly evident.  We were served desserts with plates and crap still all over the table.  Are you kidding?

    So why post this now? No other reason put to be my personal yelp post about Hibiscus and its thorny beginning.  I would love to hear happy stories from the days of old and any stories about the restaurant now that it’s opened…



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3 Responsesso far.

  1. GCG says:

    You summed it up more directly that I was bold enough to do. But yes that is what I hear too.

    @Chef Greg. Glad to hear you are moving on and doing well.

  2. Gregory Leon says:

    I just hope they get what they deserve one day

    -Chef with stars in his eyes

  3. Asha says:

    From what I understand the owners have a history of doing this. Not only with the first chef at Hibiscus, but with businesses in SF as well. They are not “community” minded people. They don’t care the neighborhoods and people around them. They take talented people’s ideas, use them and then treat them as expendable. It’s very sad. I will not support these “business people” and will not go to any of their establishments here or in the city. I know many who feel this way. The bright side is that those who have moved on after working with these people are wildly successful at their other ventures, while the “business people” seem to only be doing mediocre. Thanks for writing this.

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