Ben’s Chili Bowl mural grand unveiling

261060 Ben's Chili Bowl has been a U Street staple since its founding by newlyweds Ben and Virginia Ali in 1958. It is now the site of a new mural commissioned by MuralsDC featuring President Barack Obama, comedian Bill Cosby, the "Godfather of Go-go" Chuck Brown and D.C. radio personality Donnie Simpson.
261061 Mayor Vincent Gray joined local officials and patrons for the mural's grand unveiling, which is located in the alley between the Lincoln Theater and Ben's Chili Bowl. "There's something D.C. about being in the alley," he said. "I don't know how many of you frequent [Ben's], but I do."
Ward 1 Jim Graham founded MuralsDC in 2007 to help replace illegal graffiti throughout the city with artistic work. Since it's inception, the program has created more than 30 pieces throughout the city.
I am pleased to see that MuralsDC has been embraced by the entire city," Graham said in a statement. "It's a win, win for everyone."
Members from Chuck Brown's family were also on hand. "When we see you all puffed up and listening to his music, it helps us get through [his death]," Brown's daughter KK said.
"I think that everybody knows that Bill Cosby was a dear friend of the Ali family and has been in Ben's Chili Bowl so many times that we can't even count anymore," Gray said. "He's one of the people who helped spread the word about Ben's Chili Bowl far and near."
It is rumored that Cosby met his wife, Camille, at Ben's. Others say they met during a stand-up performance in D.C. Only one thing is certain: the couple frequented the restaurant throughout their lives.
Only the Obamas and Cosby are given special treatment at Ben's. Both eat for free.
"I've never done a mural where the person on the mural is actually here," joked artist Aniekan Udofia (left). He poses with Donnie Simpson, who hosted The Donnie Simpson Morning Show from 1993 to 2010.
Brown's daughter is impressed with how closely her father's image looks like him. "He would have loved it," she said.
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