HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Workers at a Katy Italian restaurant are trying to get back to business-as-usual after their Executive Chef was shockingly murdered Wednesday afternoon in west Harris County.

Around 3 p.m., Elmer Villatoro was shot and killed execution-style as he sat for a haircut at the Natural Nail Salon and Spa on North Fry Road.

“Today is a very gloomy day, everyone is definitely looking down,” said Antonia’s assistant manager, Paul Owen. “It’s hard to keep your chin up. He was the longest employee we had here, the lifeline of the business.”

Villatoro had been the Executive Chef of Antonia’s for more than a decade. Owen says the chef was asked to come to Houston from Boston by the restaurant’s owners to help open the new Antonia’s location in Katy.

KHOU 11 reporter Sherry Williams interviewed Chef Villatoro at the restaurant on Monday for KHOU 11’s Neighborhood Eats segment.

“We’ll have to get through it, but we’ll definitely be missing that character in the kitchen,” Owen said. “It’s going to be very, very tough without him.”

Harris County Sheriff’s deputies say the suspect is a white or Hispanic man in his 20s. He was last seen wearing a cap and blue jeans. They say he drove off in a black sedan.

“So cold-blooded, it seems to be so personal,” Owen said. “So, somehow, he offended this person, but that’s not in chef’s nature, so that’s why it doesn’t really fit the profile for me.”

Owen said the restaurant is planning a tribute dinner to benefit Villatoro’s widow and two small children.