Fire-ravaged Katoi to reopen by end of summer

The Thai-influenced hot spot will have an extended bar area and patio when it reopens

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Acclaimed Corktown restaurant Katoi is set to return to the dining scene soon.

The popular spot closed after it was ravaged by arson in February. Katoi co-owner Courtney Henriette says the restaurant is set to reopen in Corktown “at the end of summer.”

Shortly after the damaging fire, the restaurant community rallied around Katoi, offering the employees shifts at their restaurants and hosting parties to raise funds.

Henriette says they’ve taken advantage of the chance to readjust and that restaurant’s architect Ishtiaq Rafiuddin has made some change. When Katoi reopens at its Michigan Avenue location, it will have a patio and an extended bar area.

“This crazy disaster has given us the opportunity for self reflection – of ourselves and our space,” stated Henriette in an e-mail to The Detroit News. “Which is not to say we have re-imagined either entirely, but that we have had time and distance to observe and readjust all the small things that were not working as well as they could have been.”

Katoi owners put the call out on social media that the restaurant is hiring bar staff, including bartenders, and bar prep workers. Henriette says Ali Berger has taken the summer to work on the restaurant’s music program, and bar manager Drew Pompa has come back to Detroit from Philly to ready for the reopening.

Katoi opened in March 2016 in Corktown after operating as a food truck behind neighboring Two James Spirits. It quickly became a favorite among diners. It wasn’t uncommon to have an hours-long wait for one of the 50-60 seats during peak hours.

In the months that the restaurant was closed for rebuilding, chef Brad Greenhill and staff have been popping up in kitchens around town to serve his Thai-influenced dishes. Greenhill was visiting Thailand when the fire broke out. Henriette says he and his staff have spent the rebuilding period experimenting with recipes.

Katoi took over the kitchen at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit and at Frame, a pop-up kitchen inside joebar in Hazel Park. A second dinner at MOCAD is being planned for November.

Greenhill also took first place at Slurping Turtle’s Ramen Battle earlier this month, beating out hosting chef Tadashi Nagura, Gold Cash Gold’s Brendon Edwards, Derik Watson, executive chef of AFB Hospitality Groups’ Bistro 82 and The Morrie and Joseph Van Wagner of Ferndale’s Local Kitchen.

“Our mantra has always been ‘express your art’ — and this relaunch is our fullest expression of this statement,” said Henriette. “We’re truly looking forward to spending time with our friends again.”

Katoi is at 2520 Michigan in Detroit. Visit

(313) 222-2402

Twitter: @melodybaetens