Firefighters rushed to the scene of an early morning blaze at Katoi in Corktown, the Detroit Free Press-first reports. Flames were apparently seen coming out of the roof around 6 a.m.
The team of firefighters was able to put out the flames around 7:30 a.m., according to the Detroit News, however the doorway and roof appeared to show some damage. No injuries were reported. The cause of the blaze is still not known but authorities tell WDIV the fire appears “suspicious.” Evidence suggests the restaurant may have been broken into.
The Northern Thai-influence eatery, which opened just short of a year ago, was recently named a semifinalist for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant and was named Eater Detroit’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year. Chef Brad Greenhill had recently been traveling in Thailand. Eater is reaching out to the owners for more details.
Updated, 9:48 a.m.: Katoi partner Courtney Henriette was at the scene at the restaurant as firefighters and Detroit police investigated the scene. Henriette tells Eater that the blaze was first spotted by the mother of one of Katoi’s staff members. She confirms that the interior damage is significant, though she hasn’t received the full report and she’s hopeful that the kitchen may be relatively unscathed.
It’s possible that the break-in and presumed arson is part of a string of burglaries along Michigan Avenue. According to Henriette, Nemo’s Bar was also broken into in the early hours of Friday morning. Katoi had suffered some security issues early on and there were security cameras on the premises, but Henriette tells Eater these appear to have been unplugged during this morning’s incident.
While Henriette appeared confident that they will rebuild, it’s still too early to tell what will need to be done for the eatery to reopen.
Update, 4:30 p.m.: In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, chef Brad Greenhill writes:
"It's hard to find words when something heartbreaking like this happens," Greenhill said in a statement via text message on behalf of the restaurant's ownership. "There are none really, other than 'resolve.' Katoi grew up and came to fruition with support from an amazing community with that very same attribute.
"With the love and support from our friends and neighbors, we'll rise again from the ashes...with a vengeance."
Greenhill learned of the news while eating dinner. He’s currently traveling in Thailand.
Meanwhile, arson investigator do appear to have retrieved surveillance video from the restaurant and are said to be reviewing it.
• Firefighters Put Out Fire at Katoi Restaurant [Detroit News]
• All Disaster Report Coverage [ED]