The owners responded by saying that although they knew the meaning of the term, they didn’t realize that it was offensive and operated from a literal translation of it, which meant third gender or third profile. They were unaware that it was a slur since the word was mostly used in the 1960s to identify and deviate from dominating social norms. According to the owners, Katoi represented the push and pull between female and male genders and the divergence from gender binaries in a society that is so male-gendered. The owners used the word because they did not buy into gender binary or historical gender roles in their business. Since the restaurant opened, the owners had always adopted a gender-neutral approach towards their staff and had even hired people who identified as transgender. They finally decided to change the restaurant’s name to Takoi after it became clear that Katoi was an offensive slur. The owners released a statement stating that they would be dropping the name and apologizing to anyone they might have offended by using the name. Their statement further read that although they would be changing the name of the restaurant, the individuality, self-expression, and spirit it inspired will continue to live on.

Katoi restaurant has received various accolades since its launch. In 2016, the Thrillist included Katoi in its list of the 12 Best New Restaurants in America. The same year also saw the restaurant crowned the Restaurant of the Year by Eater Detroit, and Chef Brad Greenhill was named Rustbelt Rising Star Chef. In 2017 Katoi was named the Best New Restaurant in Detroit by the Detroit Free Press. They were also semifinalists in James Beard’s Best New Restaurant, and Greenhill was named as one of the 15 Chefs to Watch in 2017. In 2018 Katoi was named the Best Restaurant in Detroit by the Detroit Metro Times. Detroit Free Press again featured Katoi in 2019, but this time, it was as one of the 12 Restaurants That Defined The Decade.

Krin Cook Blogging