Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Passing of an Icon: Ben's Chili Bowl founder passes at 82

Thanks to the net, word travels fast. Ben Ali, the 82 year-old founder of Ben's Chili Bowl, passed last night in his home in DC of congestive heart failure. For the last two years, I have frequented Ben's Chili Bowl, and more recently their full-service establshment named Next Door, unprivileged to have ever met the man behind this famed landmark. Although I was a latecomer as a DC area native patron of The Bowl, I still immediately saw how the family business made everyone, from tourists to regulars, feel like they were one of the Alis as well - That's what keeps me going back (plus the jumbo dogs)!

As a business woman of partial Trinidadian descent, learning of the progress Ben's Chili Bowl has made from its opening in 1958, surviving the U Street riots in 1968 and still holding down the same block 50 years later is very inspiring. This is a feat not achieved by many Black businesses so I have made an effort to always support the Ali family whenever possible. RIP Mr. Ali - your memory and spirit will forever remain at 1213 U St. NW.

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