Koi’s Table 23: The philanthropic story behind ‘the best table in the house’

fullsizerenderKoi’s philanthropy goes way beyond the Wildcard discount that it offers to students.

Next time you decide to go to visit this local Chinese and sushi restaurant, call ahead and ask to reserve Table 23. You can have a wonderful meal, get 10% off, and have 20% of the remainder donated to a local organization that rotates through each month.

Koi is headed by owner Sandy Chen, who has been a part of the Evanston community for more than a decade.

“Residences in Evanston have been supporting Koi for over 12 years to keep our business going,” Chen said.

She wanted to give back by supporting local organizations beyond the fundraising events Koi was involved in a few times a year. The tradition began in 2013 when Koi partnered with the Evanston Art Center to start the Table 23 program.

“That was really successful, and we just kept going and going,” said Chen. “There were so many people signing up for it.”

The allure of Table 23 is that it’s got a perfect view of Davis Street, through the enormous, wall-to-wall window at the front of the restaurant.

“People like to sit by the window, especially during the summer,” said Chen. “That’s the best table in the house.”

Over the years, revenue from Koi has gone back to the community to support non-profits and local groups such as the Evanston Symphony, the Rotary Club of Evanston and Literature for All of Us.

In October, Koi supported Curt’s Café, a non-profit that teaches food services and valuable life skills to at-risk youth in Evanston. Students bolster their knowledge in relevant subjects such as computer literacy, job readiness and food history, and receive mentorship as well as job placement assistance.

For November, the beneficiary is the Evanston Work Ethic Program, which provides a mentor and career preparation resources to individuals from Evanston Township High School. The WE program is a branch of the Forrest E. Powell Foundation, an Evanston non-profit run by President Hecky Powell, the namesake who operates Hecky’s Barbecue on Green Bay Road.

Koi is involved with Northwestern in a multitude of ways, from catering recruiting parties with Kellogg to supporting the university with gift certificates.

And on a more personal note, last year when CSA (Northwestern’s Chinese Student Association) was fundraising for Celebrasia, our biggest event of the year, we visited restaurants in Evanston to ask for donations, and Koi was one of the only restaurants that supported the initiative.

Koi has also participated in local events such as Taste of Evanston, Northwestern’s Big Bite Night and the recent Evanston Mashup, a community event held at Northwestern that was co-captained by Elizabeth Tisdahl, the mayor of Evanston, and Morton Schapiro, president of Northwestern University. The event was co-chaired by community members from different local businesses and institutions, and more than 600 people showed up overall.

I’ve partnered up with Koi to show you ways to give back to the community! For my favorite dishes and recommendations, read more here.

Check out Koi!

(photo source: Koi Evanston)

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