Ben’s Chili Bowl seeks input for new mural (Photos)

Ben's Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl has been on U street in Northwest, D.C. for nearly 59 years. (WTOP/Kristi King)

A passerby suggested some kind of "anti-Trump" message be put on the wall, but Sophia Ali, a member of the family that opened the restaurant, said that's not what the effort is about. "This is not about political action," Ali said.  (WTOP/Kristi King)
A passer-by suggested some kind of “anti-Trump” message be put on the wall, but Sophia Ali, a member of the family that opened the restaurant, said that’s not what the effort is about. “This is not about political action,” Ali said. (WTOP/Kristi King)

The Ali family welcomes people to leave positive messages and images on the bare wall until the mural is replaced. "We're working with the Commission On The Arts who helped fund it last time, Ali said. "They're looking for artists right now."
The Ali family welcomes people to leave positive messages and images on the bare wall until the mural is replaced. “We’re working with the Commission On The Arts who helped fund it last time,” Ali said. “They’re looking for artists right now.”

Ben's Chili Bowl mural
ShaDarryl Brown of Northwest leaves a message of love on the now mostly bare wall of Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street in Northwest. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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Ben's Chili Bowl
A passerby suggested some kind of "anti-Trump" message be put on the wall, but Sophia Ali, a member of the family that opened the restaurant, said that's not what the effort is about. "This is not about political action," Ali said.  (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Ali family welcomes people to leave positive messages and images on the bare wall until the mural is replaced. "We're working with the Commission On The Arts who helped fund it last time, Ali said. "They're looking for artists right now."
Ben's Chili Bowl mural

WASHINGTON — Ben’s Chili Bowl is getting a makeover.

The mural outside the iconic restaurant on U Street in Northwest D.C. has been painted over and its owners are asking patrons to help choose how it will be replaced.

“The weather has beaten up that mural over the past five years,” said Sophia Ali, a member of the family that opened the restaurant nearly 59 years ago. “This is a great time to refresh.”

In just the first few hours of voting, more than 600 people declared preferences for who should be depicted on the new mural.

Some passers-by were happy to hear there’s a possibility Bill Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault, might not be chosen to return to the wall.

“We have no idea at this point who’s going to end up on the wall,” Ali said. “But we’re excited — really excited.”

Dennis Seiler of Arlington, Virginia, suggested some kind of “anti-Trump” image go up.

“This is not about political action,” Ali said. “It’s about bringing art to the community, supporting local artists and Ben’s Chili Bowl and what we represent to the community.”

Marcus Tipton of Northwest D.C. said he would like it to be somebody in the community that “people can look up to and be an inspiration to all of the D.C. residents.”

Ali said work on the new mural should begin this spring. Until that happens, people are welcome to leave positive or encouraging images or messages on the wall.

For what’s to come, a list of suggested names for consideration include diverse choices such as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Anthony Bourdain, Bob Marley, Alice Walker, Barack Obama, Chuck Brown, Bill Cosby and Ben Ali.

You can vote for a preferred person to be depicted on the mural by choosing from the list or write in your own suggestion on the restaurant’s website.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.


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