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Chef Harry DaCosta has walked by the Ohio Restaurant and Bar every day since the soul food purveyor’s co-owner, Betty Ayele, was shot to death on Oct. 26 Oct. 25* while idling in her car at a stoplight in Alexandria. He says it’s been difficult to get back behind the grill since the killing. “Her personality drew people in,” DaCosta says, adding that the Ohio has only been open intermittently since Ayele’s death.
On Tuesday afternoon, DaCosta was making his daily pilgrimage to the Ohio, just to check up on things. It was closed, but mourners continued to leave handwritten notes on a placard tied to the metal bars of the main entrance. One wished Ayele “travel on smoother seas.” Another wanted to know when and where the funeral was, and then left a phone number. The H Street Merchants Association had placed a stand of yellow flowers—arranged, strangely, to spell “H St.”—in front of the restaurant. And DaCosta himself had left a tapered pink candle burning in memory of Ayele.
“We were always fussin’,” the chef admitted about his relationship with his frequently bossy boss. “She was more like a sister than a boss.” DaCosta said he plans to serve a dinner in Ayele’s memory sometime over the weekend at the Ohio, which should resume full-time operations on Thursday.
The chef then noted that his cooking is even better than it was when we first reviewed the Ohio back in July.
CORRECTION, 11/2: Ayele was killed on Oct. 25, not the 26th.