Ferndale's Imperial restaurant says it will reopen in August without owner Jeff King

After a more than month-long closure, Imperial restaurant in Ferndale announced in a statement on its website it will reopen sometime this month.

The restaurant, which abruptly shut down in early July over sexual harassment allegations and other workplace issues, did not provide a specific date.

Most of the allegations, which appeared in a July 1 Facebook post, were aimed at Jeff King, Imperial’s former co-owner. King stepped down the next day amid the social media backlash and Imperial owners saying they were "shocked" by the allegations. 

Sharon and Perry LaVoisne are the other owners of Imperial under the Working Class Outlaws, which also owns Antihero and the Public House in Ferndale. The group also has a food truck. They could not be immediately reached for comment. 

According to the online statement, the LaVoisnes have acquired King's shares of Working Class Outlaws restaurant group, making them majority owners. 

The LaVoisnes said when they learned of the "inappropriate conduct" King was relieved of all his responsibilities.

"We are passionate about Imperial being a place where everyone feels welcome to work and dine. We don't tolerate harassment, abuse or racism," Perry Lavoisne said in the statement.

The post went on to say that the owners were "deeply upset" about the allegations and that they are taking "active steps to ensure our management policies and procedures are in line with our values."

In early July, Imperial faced harsh social media backlash after posting a note on Facebook that they were "shocked" to learn about allegations against them. 

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"In the last 24 hours, we’ve been blindsided by the allegations made by former employees," Imperial said in the July 1 Facebook post. "Honestly, we’re shocked. We’ve spent the last 24 hours investigating these claims internally and evaluating our processes and procedures to find validation to substantiate the allegations set forth on social media. We’re also trying to process and understand the base of these claims."

The allegations ranged from former employees calling the restaurant a "toxic culture" to sexual harassment and racism. Within hours of the post, there were hundreds of comments on the post, mostly critical of the owners. Other comments also accused staffers of not wearing gloves and masks and of Imperial covering up COVID-19 cases. 

Moving forward, the owners announced they’ve retained EverythingHR, a Rochester Hills-based provider of human resources services.

"We have restructured our management team and implemented mandatory sensitivity and sexual harassment training," said Sharon LaVoisne.

Imperial, located on Woodward, is known for its California-style street tacos, Sonoran-style hot dogs and large selection of tequila. 

"We are dedicated to our guests, creating jobs for our community and providing a safe place for our employees while doing our part to keep Ferndale a vibrant entertainment district," said Perry LaVoisne.

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