Local Leaders: Erin Penosky, Koi Owner & Operator

Story by Erin Penosky
Photo by Elijah Beaver

The first time I entered Koi, about four years ago, was for my interview. I had never been to this quirky venue before, but I felt an understated intimacy. I looked around this space and, although there were many imperfections, my mind starting churning over possibilities for the future. In a way, I had been here before.

Six years prior, as a young adult, I had dipped my toes into the waters of business ownership and community cultivation with a friend in an attempt to obtain a space for music and food. The dream failed to materialize at that moment, but soon grew legs when I found myself at Koi’s doors through connections in the industry.

Between then and now, I had lost touch with a lot of creative people I had met in my life: the people that made music part of my everyday expression. Growing up in Kensington made me a bit of a wanderer, and busking everyday formed connections in a relatively unorthodox way. I was free but, as life goes, I found myself on a path that blindsided me, which changed my life in an instant.

Sometimes you meet people that transcend the barriers that you set to protect yourself within this world, and they find a way right into your heart – a calling that doesn’t really use words. I found myself thrust into the role of motherhood quickly because of an undeniable connection. With that, I found myself temporarily out of balance, losing the creative aspects of myself. But through the artistic community at Koi, I found that fire again.

Many people who I have met through the transient atmosphere of Koi have shared with me a similar experience of feeling more tapped into their creative expression, and freely being able to embrace themselves with no judgement. From the perspective of patrons, visuals artists, musicians, poets, etc., we have generated a special cornerstone of the artistic scene that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in YYC.

At Koi, we cater to everything and everyone. A typical weekend night may consist of a young trio, fresh from jazz school in Toronto, playing to a crowd enjoying dinner and cocktails. Following this, we might turn down the lights to showcase electronic DJs for a deep bass music experience. Beyond the show diversity, our regular weekly and monthly events form lasting relationships and collaborative projects from the endless possibility of connection.

Visit Koi on their website and Instagram.