“King of Soul Food” Henry E. Smith, Owner of Henry’s Soul Cafe Passed Away Last Month

1704 U Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

You shared the great news yesterday that Henry’s is reopening soon, but I didn’t know if you were aware that Henry himself passed away just last month.

My dad and his friends were close with Henry and his crew in the ’70s, and I’ve heard many fantastic stories. It’s a great loss for this city.”


From Henry’s Soul Cafe Facebook page:

The District’s legendary “King of Soul Food” Henry Smith, died Friday, October 10, at the age of 73.

His world-renowned Washington establishment, Henry’s Carry-out & Delicatessen, has drawn celebrities, politicians, tourists and locals alike to enjoy its famed soul food for more than 45 years.

Smith, opened the U Street restaurant in 1968, featuring Southern cooking staples like fried chicken, barbeque ribs and collard greens. However, it was best known as the “Home of the Sweet Potato Pie,” having served its famous dessert to every District of Columbia Mayor since Walter Washington and even United States President’s Clinton and Obama.

“Today I lost my father, but D.C. has lost a legend,” said Jermaine Smith, son of Henry Smith.” During the 1968 riots, Henry and his brother sat in the window of his “then” new business armed with a shotgun and a bible. His restaurant was one of the few businesses that remained unscathed during the historic incident.

Henry’s Smith’s legacy continues today with his son and daughter at the helm of the original Henry’s at 17th& U Street as well as operating several other locations in the Washington Metropolitan area.

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