Koi receives award for contributions to the arts

An employee serves food at Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge. Koi received the 2013 Arts & Business Committee Leadership Award in recognition of the restaurants support of arts organizations in Evanston.

Source: Koi on Facebook

An employee serves food at Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge. Koi received the 2013 Arts & Business Committee Leadership Award in recognition of the restaurants support of arts organizations in Evanston.

Jennifer Ball, Reporter

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A committee aiming to unite the arts and business communities honored an Evanston restaurant this month for donating to artistic organizations throughout the past year.

Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge, 624 Davis St., received the 2013 Arts & Business Committee Leadership Award, earning the recognition for its exceptional contributions to the arts community.

For the past seven years the city’s Arts and Business Committee has awarded the honor, the number of nominated businesses has increased each year.

“The businesses supporting the arts are growing, which is our goal,” said Penny Rotheiser, co-chair of the committee. “It’s really important for the arts and business community to work together to keep Evanston a vital city.”

Because the arts and business communities have a mutually beneficial relationship, she said businesses supporting arts programs is “a win-win situation.”

Last year, Koi instituted the “Table 23” program, under which people can reserve a certain table in the restaurant and 20 percent of their check will be donated to a designated Evanston-based nonprofit organization for that month. The organization chosen for February was Shorefront, a group dedicated to providing an outlet for the study, research and preservation of local black history.

“The big, amazing part is our customers making donations,” said Sandy Chen, owner of Koi. “It’s such an honor that they realize how much we support the arts and how much we are giving back to the community.”

Chen said she realized how important it is for Koi, which opened its doors 10 years ago, to give back to the community, which also has kept the business successful for the past decade.

“The whole team working here is part of this honor,” Chen said. “Without them, we would not receive this honor — without their dedication.”

Rotheiser said each year the committee chooses a local artist to create a three-dimensional award.

“We do either a sculpture or something 3-D that can sit on somebody’s desk or wherever their office is,” Rotheiser said.

Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves Ruiz, a Mexican-born sculpture artist, is creating the award this year. He said his art explores social issues and presents his point of view on different problems.

“I create what I like to do,” Nieves Ruiz said. “I don’t care about pleasing anybody. I just create my art.”

Nieves Ruiz added he was honored to have the opportunity to give back to the community. He described the award as a mixed-media sculpture, using clay, oxides and wood, emphasizing that different artists or businesspeople, like different media, can be complements to each other.

The award will be formally presented to Koi at the Mayor’s State of the City Luncheon on March 7 at the Hilton Orrington/Evanston, 1710 Orrington Ave.

Email: jenniferball2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @jennifercball

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