As word spread that a devastating fire had gutted Katoi on Friday morning, fans and friends in the Detroit service industry reacted to the news with a mixture of shock and sadness. Burglars broke into the restaurant in the early hours of February 17, stealing four bottles of liquor and an unknown amount of cash, according to the Detroit Free Press. The restaurant interior was then set on fire.
While the cinderblock exterior appears to have only sustained minor scorching, the roof and interior received significant fire damage. Nemo’s Bar, farther down Michigan Avenue, was also the victim of a liquor theft around 2 a.m. this morning, though it’s still unclear if the incidents are related.
Katoi had received wide acclaim since opening its doors last spring and was named a semifinalist for a James Beard Award this week. The owners have made limited statements about the fire this morning, though they did express their gratitude on social media to all the people who’ve reached out in support.
The tight-knit Detroit dining scene shared an outpouring of support for the team at Katoi throughout the morning, offering condolences and praise for the restaurant on social channels.
Our thoughts go out to Katoi and all of the employees who work there. <3 https://t.co/G8TysPDsiG— Peace Meal Kitchen (@Peace_Meal) February 17, 2017
Some in the service industry have begun reaching out offering assistance and help finding staff members temporary work.
A fundraiser appears to already be in the works at Atwater Brewery. Expect further updates on the recovery efforts as this story develops.
Update, 3:15 p.m.: Restaurants and bars across the city have begun organizing fundraisers for the staff at Katoi. A benefit will be held on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at MotorCity Wine. Donations will be collected and a portion of the evening’s bar sales will be distributed to employees. A $40,000 GoFundMe has also been set up for the staff. Gold Cash Gold is hosting a fundraiser on February 20.
Sister Pie and Bon Bon Bon are also currently accepting donations for the staff and distributing postcards for those who wish to send a message to the restaurant’s employees.
Following the footsteps of @theroycedetroit, we're collecting funds for our friends at @_katoi_. The beloved restaurant suffered a terrible fire this morning. Our hearts are breaking for them but we know they'll come out on top and then some! Please do consider sparing what you can to help them out next time you're at the pie shop. ❤ We love you, Team Katoi! #tokatoiandbeyond
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