Ben Ali, 1927-2009

Today we got the sad news that Ben Ali, founder of DC institution Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, passed away Wednesday night of congestive heart failure.   Ben and his wife Virginia opened the restaurant in 1958 and it quickly became a fixture.  Its casual atmosphere and unforgettable chili half-smokes have been a favorite of visiting entertainers, DC luminaries, and everyone else in the city for more than fifty years.  It’s been an attention-getter for decades, and was the only business to remain open through the 1968 riots — and has remained a force in the neighborhood, non-stop, through all the changes U Street has seen over the years.  One thing that hadn’t changed for the past twenty-plus years was the sign behind the counter that read:  “List of Who Eats Free At Ben’s:  Bill Cosby.  No One Else”; that is, until the sign was changed to add the Obama Family (with the notation “but he paid”).

Ben’s has been featured in just about every travelogue related to DC that one can think of!   Recent expansions include the new Nationals Ballpark and Ben’s Next Door.

We at DC Metblogs want to express our heartfelt condolences to the Ali family.  Rest in peace, Ben, and thanks for creating such a great place for us Washingtonians to love.

Bens on U Street (wikimedia).  Thanks for everything!

Ben's on U Street (wikimedia). Thanks for everything!

3 Comments so far

  1. The Death of Ben Ali: What Others Had to Say - Young & Hungry - Washington City Paper (pingback) on October 8th, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

    [...] DC Metblog: “Its casual atmosphere and unforgettable chili half-smokes have been a favorite of visiting entertainers, DC luminaries, and everyone else in the city for more than fifty years.” var linkwithin_site_id = 35412; (function () { var elem = document.createElement(‘script’); elem.type = ‘text/javascript’; elem.src = ‘http://www.linkwithin.com/widget.js?rand=‘ + Math.random(); document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(elem); })(); var addthis_pub=”washingtoncitypaper”; var addthis_options=”facebook, twitter, google, yahoobkm, digg, reddit, myspace, delicious, email, more”; Tags: Adrian Fenty, ben ali, Ben’s Chili Bowl, DCist, Grub Street, Loose Lips, Metblog, New York Times, Washington Post previousDespite Founder’s Death, It Was Business As Usual at Ben’s [...]


  2. Ben Ali, 1927 — 2009 « NotionsCapital (pingback) on October 10th, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

    [...]  ”Ben Ali, 1927-2009,”  DC Metblog [...]


  3. No_limits46 (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2009 @ 6:03 am

    His name for this society was ‘communism’. ,



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