This Happened: Shae meets current owner of historic eatery Ben’s Chili Bowl, Virginia Ali


On this hot summer morning I expected to be home in my bed relaxing. Then I was waken up by a text message that at first, I was mad at but, once I went on to my social media applications on my phone I remembered that it was the day of the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington. I had been telling people on my on my job that I wanted to go, and I was off that day. Then I came across a post from someone who said that they were going. I simply replied to the post and said that I wanted to go and she came to get me, thanks to a new friend Phylicia by the way. We arrived in Washington,D.C. looking for bathrooms was our first move. Then we made our way to the monument, we marched and subsided. It was  pretty congested in the district that day. The next move was food everyone was hungry, I was secretly hoping that we went to Ben’s Chili Bowl. So once someone threw out the idea I was on it like a hound. We had a taste for their mouth-watering chili-cheese dogs and chili-cheese fries. I was excited and was hoping to meet someone there that would leave a mark on my day.

For those who don’t know Ben’s Chili Bowl is a restaurant in Washington,D.C. on 1213 U street. This restaurant was established in 1958 and founded by the original owner Ben Ali, who passed in October of 2009. The restaurant is known to be frequented by celebrities and very powerful figures such as Bill Cosby and President Barack Obama. This day that we went to the restaurant we were lucky enough to meet the current owner of Ben’s Chili Bowl, Virginia Ali. She is the widow to the late Ben Ali. I noticed her because I saw her on the local news in Baltimore that morning. The reporters were speaking of the historic restaurant and were discussing Virginia and her being there for the March on Washington and Dr. MLK’s,  “I Have a Dream” speech. So I introduced myself , and of course my friends and I took pictures with her. After we were done with that she discussed the history of the restaurant and the legacy of the business. I was so happy to meet her and was hoping she was going to be there! She showed us excellent hospitality by seating us and making sure we were taken care of . Virginia was definitely a sweetheart and I would definitely recommend Ben’s Chili Bowl to anyone visiting DC.