Ben’s Chili Bowl Founder Dead At 82

It’s a solemn Thursday in DC for thousands of hot dog-lovin’ Washingtonians. Ben Ali, the founder of Washington’s world-famous Ben’s Chili Bowl Restaurant, has died. He was 82.

Mr. Ali died of congestive heart failure at his home on Wednesday night, says restaurant manager Maurice Harcum.
Ben Ali Dies

Ben’s Chili Bowl — home of the best half-smoke in Washington, if I do say so myself — has been a haunt for Hollywood celebs and noted politicans for decades. Comedian Bill Cosby has been a favorite guest at the restaurant, and even President Barack Obama stopped by in January.

The restaurant was founded in 1958 on U Street, then known as “Black Broadway” for drawing groundbreaking performers like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole.