I am thinking of my father Ben Ali today on this Father’s Day. Dad would have been 86 years old last Thursday if he were here. We lost him 4 years ago but we remember him daily. It’s still incredible to me and to our whole family how loved and popular Ben’s Chili Bowl has become. Not a day goes by that we are not thankful for Dad, his vision, hard work and perseverance in creating Ben’s and guiding its success.
Ben Ali was the businessman, the number cruncher and the idea man. He was the one that made sure Ben’s stayed afloat during those lean years. Do you remember Ben’s Ice Cream & Bakery? Well only locals will but Dad built the bakery in the Reeve’s Municipal building at 14th and U and it stayed open for 17 years. Dad’s vision of building the Bakery saved Ben’s Chili Bowl as profits from the Bakery helped carry the The Bowl when business effectively came to a halt for the 5 years of Metro construction.
As Ben was the businessman, Mom (Virginia Ali) was the heart, soul and personality of the Chili Bowl. We are so thankful that before dad passed away on October 7, 2009, he and mom celebrated 50 years of marriage, 50 years of Ben’s Chili Bowl, got the key to the city, and were inducted into the DC Hall of Fame. Dad was also very proud of the fact that he has a street named after him in 2 countries.
Ben was a great father. He never stopped teaching us and was a mentor to so many. He helped many people start or grow their business and was a father figure to so many of his employees. We miss Dad today and always, but we know he is shining down on us and is proud that we are keeping Ben’s Chili Bowl alive and well.