Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street in Washington, DC has been a staple in the city’s dining scene for over 60 years. The restaurant was opened by Virginia Ali and her husband Ben in 1958. The restaurant was originally known as “Black Broadway.” Ben’s Chili Bowl has a history of supporting protest movements and feeding protesters advocating for increased equality. Ben’s Chili Bowl even fed protesters taking part of the March in Washington in 1963 and has continued to provide food for free to those calling for increased equality in the recent protests of 2020.
Martin Luther King Jr. himself often dined at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben’s Chili Bowl has also historically hired local African American businesses to assist them with the expansion of their business. The restaurant’s famous dish is the half-smoke, which is a legendary dish in DC’s food scene served with potato chips.
Like many businesses throughout the country, Ben’s Chili Bowl was hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Business reportedly sunk by over 80% during the recent pandemic. Ben’s Chili Bowl is more than just a restaurant but a cultural institution committed to progress and increased equality. Project4Prosperity is proud to partner with Ben’s Chili Bowl and provide financial support to a business that has meant so much to the DC community over decades.