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Early in the morning of June 14, 2012, Grace Deli owner Hae Soon “June” Lim was shot in the neck and killed in a robbery of her H Street NE carry-out shop. Her murderer has since been sentenced to 27 years in prison. The restaurant has remained closed.
But come October, the corner space at 701 H St. NE will reopen, thanks to Donte Beal, who says he was a friend of Lim and worked at a nearby barber shop at the time of her death. He plans to pay homage to Lim at his forthcoming sandwich shop called Heaven & H.
Beal says he was motivated to open up the deli after getting culinary arts training at D.C.’s adult education school Ballou STAY. “I knew June really well,” Beal says. “Over the years up until the incident, we developed a good relationship. She’d let me get things and pay her later if I didn’t have lunch money when I was just starting out in the barber shop… Not only that, I’d bring my family and she’d give them free candy.”
The deli cafe, which will be open for breakfast and lunch, will serve hot and cold sandwiches served on “untraditional” breads like croissants, English muffins, and pita. Unlike Grace Deli, Beal says he won’t serve any frozen foods.
Beal also plans to revamp the interior to make it a little more inviting (no Plexiglas partition). There will be about 10 seats, including a window-side counter, with free Wi-Fi and two TVs.
Heaven & H will keep Lim’s memory alive with a small mural of her on the wall. One of the sandwiches on the menu will also be named after her.