Ben’s Chili Bowl Turns 50!

August 24, 2008 at 1:07 pm 1 comment

DC landmark, Ben’s Chili Bowl first opened its doors August 22, 1958.  That was the first time Washingtonians got their first tastes of Ben’s trademarks Chili Dog and Chili Half-Smoke.  As part of the celebration comic icon Bill Cosby showed up last Thursday to kick off the hoodledooinz.  Cosby wasn’t the only celeb on hand either, legendary diva Roberta Flack was there to croon the legions of Ben’s fans.

Here’s a little history fron the Ben’s website:

It was the summer of 1958. Eisenhower was president. Federal troops were ordered into Little Rock, Arkansas to aid in the integration of public schools. Explorer I was launched, as was NASA. The first-ever Grammy Awards were given, and Ella Fitzgerald won two of them. That same year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. published his first book, Stride Toward Freedom. Griffith Stadium was home to the Washington Senators, and 30% of D.C.’s black population owned homes. Nelson Mandela wed Winnie. And, in 1958, newlyweds Ben and Virginia Ali gave birth to a new enterprise.

Despite a national business failure rate of 55.9%, the Ali’s used $5,000 to begin renovating a building at 1213 U Street. It had high-arched ceilings, character, and plenty of history. Built in 1910, it first housed a silent movie house called the Minnehaha Theater. Later, Harry Beckley, one of D.C.’s first Black police detectives, converted it into a pool hall. On Aug. 22, 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl was born.


Ben’s isn’t a 24/7 operation but it is dang near.  Check out these crazy hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Breakfast from 6am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 2am

Breakfast from 6am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 4am

Breakfast from 7am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 4am

No Breakfast
Main Menu from 11am – 8pm

Good News! Anytime Ben’s is open, even during breakfast hours, you can always get our famous chili dogs, chili half-smokes, or bowls of beef or veggie chili.

Ben’s Will Be Closed…
on Thanksgiving Day, at 6pm on Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day, and during breakfast hours on New Year’s Day


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."


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