Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ben Ali (1927-2009)

Washington, D.C., is mourning the death last week of Ben Ali, founder of Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Mr. Ali and his family have fed everyone from Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole to Bill Cosby and Barack Obama to Shaq and Serena.

His passing was reported by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, as well as, of course, the Washington Post.

I hardly ever ate there. But during my journalism days in the 1980s, I did cover a news conference that Cosby conducted at the Chili Bowl. He loved that joint. I’m waiting for him to tweet about it.


bklyn6 said...

Never heard of "Ben's Chili Bowl." :-/ But it sounds like the Sylvia's of chili.

A bit off topic.... I must have a psychic connection to this blog. I was just googling Duke Ellington, looking for his "Nutcracker Suite".

Anonymous said...

i never ate there either and i tried many restaurants in d.c.
i hope a family member can keep the place going.

ubm has one of my fav. youtube videos in the spotlight. love bizarre
it get's kind of rough in the back of my limousine.... i watch that one and michael jackson smooth criminal live all the time. i love shelia e. she's my girl crush.

@bklyn6 i feel the same way about this blog. i think we all just like the same type of music.
sylvia's in harlem?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ kj: Prince's eagle-eyed lawyers are slacking off. Can't believe this vid is still up. Thankful, though.

bklyn6 said...

Yes, Must Love Movies, that Sylvia's. :-)

Now, if Obama wasn't always cruising burger joints, I might've heard of this place sooner.

procrastinating redcoat said...

Classic English douchebag - love it.

Oh, and I'm so happy cardigans are back in style.

Zac said...

^^ oops. Posted comment on wrong thread. Was obviously referring to your New Orleans post...

P.S. Ben's Chili Bowl is now run by his kids. Have never visited personally, but Anthony Bourdain visited it on his No Reservations show.

Undercover Black Man said...

bklyn6: Obama dropped by in January. Here's the video.

bklyn6 said...

^Hey, thanks for the link, UBM! (Apparently, I'm not paying attention.) I wonder if business increased after his visit?

Was that officer not trying have his photo taken next to the President?

Anonymous said...

Kamal and Nizam are indeed running the Bowl. They also bought the building next door. "Ben's Next Door" is a soul food restaurant, with a long ass bar. Ben and Virginia celebrated their spot's 50th Anniversary last year. Ben will be missed, but the man's personality will live on. BTW, one of the best juke boxes in the city. Personally, I can only eat their breakfast.

Anonymous said...

FYI: he did mention Ben's Chili Bowl last night on the "Jay Leno Show."

In his typical disjointed,rambling way, Cosby reminiced about a time when he took a trip to Pink's Hot Dogs in L.A. with Carl Reiner and two other "Jews." He threw in Ben's Chili Bowl for good measure, I guess, and ended up talking about how he informed Reiner, because he's Jewish, that the dogs were made of pork. And the punchline, I guess, was how Reiner responded "not today they aren't."

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks for that, anon. I tuned in at the end of Leno and heard him thank Bill Cosby, and I was like, "Dang. Wish I had known."

I'll Hulu it.

Lola Gets said...

Im probably the only one that things their food was disgusting. Next Door is a wee bit better, but they need to start using real mashed potatoes, instead of boxed.