The HalfSmoke family is mourning the tragic loss of Kevin Redd, a 32-year-old manager who was shot to death last week on his way home from closing up the restaurant.
An employee of the four-year-old Shaw staple since day one, Redd started out as a dishwasher and moved his way up the ladder to line cook, front-of-house manager, and eventually, a full-time manager.
“I would say Kevin’s is the quintessential restaurant story. He was a self-proclaimed HalfSmoke lifer, and those are hard to come by. They’re irreplaceable,” owner Andre McCain tells Eater.
After locking up the restaurant in the late hours of Wednesday, June 11, Redd took a bus to the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station and was blocks from his Northeast home when he was gunned down in an alleyway, reports local ABC affiliate WJLA. An active police investigation is underway, and there’s a $25,000 reward to help catch his killer.
“He was able to accomplish a lot in his relatively short life. He impacted everyone around him in a very positive way. He wanted everyone to be happy,” says McCain.
Married to his high school sweetheart, the father of three (ages 5, 11, and 12) had another child due in August. HalfSmoke coworkers set up a Gofundme page this week to help his family. Over $10,000 has already been raised.
“HalfSmoke was his second life — family was first and HalfSmoke was second,” says McCain.
At HalfSmoke, Redd continued to wear lots of hats even in his upper managerial role.
“He was the first to wash dishes or clean the bathroom or wait tables ... he was wiling to do whatever he had to do to make sure things were running well and customers had a great experience. He was an employee we couldn’t do without,” he says.
COVID-19 caused HalfSmoke’s 55-person staff to shrink to 20 employees, and Redd never stopped working, says McCain.
The popular corner destination for sausages, over-the-top milkshakes, and drinking games stayed busy during the pandemic by adding a breakfast sandwich pop-up called Butter Me Up. Its patio recently reopened with bottomless happy hour snacks and frozen cocktails (651 Florida Avenue NW). The brand is also gearing up to announce plans for an area expansion, adds McCain.
“[Kevin] had immense potential — that’s what makes it so hard for us. He was invested in HalfSmoke and we were invested in him. He’s the [reason] why local restaurants are so important. It’s not just about the business itself — it’s about the people involved,” he says.
McCain hopes the police reward in place will help solve the case. MPD Commander Leslie Parsons of D.C. Homicide says there’s currently no details to share publicly at this time, reports ABC.
“No one seems to know what happened. It’s another example of how we need to all stay together during this time — you never know what tomorrow may be like,” says McCain.