'Katoi Is Bigger Than Any Building,' Owners Say After Fire, Vowing to 'Be Back Soon'

Thieves broke into the acclaimed Katoi restaurant,  grabbed liquor and lit a devastating fire early Friday, the Free Press and other media report.

"It appears the fire was set to cover the break-in," Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell tells Robert Allen of the paper, who writes:

Nobody was injured in the fire reported at about 6:15 a.m., at Michigan Avenue and 17th.

Arson investigators remain on the scene, and a tote bag of liquor was found by the back door.

Executive chef Brad Greenhill opened Katoi with Courtney Henriette last year. (Facebook photo)

Freep food writer Mark Kurlyandchik last week put Katoi atop a list of restaurants that opened in 2016. This week it became a semifinalist in the best new restaurant category of the James Beard Awards, a national competition.

It's owned by executive chef Brad Greenhill and Courtney Henriette, who started with a food truck in 2014 and then opened an Ann Arbor spot that closed when they moved operations to Southwest Detroit.  

Before noon Friday, the pair post on Instagram:

Thanks to everyone who has reached out. We are safe. Katoi is bigger than any building, and we will be back soon. To the future & BEYOND! 

Intruders apparently entered through a  back door, the fire official says. Another break-in occurred a few hours earlier at Nemo's, also on Michigan Avenue less than a mile away, according to Detroit Police. The Freep has details:

A 4-foot by 8-foot window was smashed, burglars gained entry and stole four bottles of liquor and an undisclosed amount of cash. A security monitor was found damaged, and two cash drawers were found removed.

These are among local social media reactions to the news about Katoi:

► "Our hearts hurt for our family at Katoi. We're here for you guys." -- Gold Cash Gold

► "Crushed to hear of the fire at Katoi, an absolute pioneer of a restaurant." -- Devin Scillian, WDIV anchor

► "Heartbreaking news. Katoi is full of delicious food, passionate people, and mad dreams. They will rebuild, and we will all be there to rally around them when they do." -- Corridor Sausage Co.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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