Ben’s Chili Bowl owners focus expansion on H Street, Clarendon


Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street NW. (Jeffrey Porter/The Washington Post)

The expansion effort continues, as the Washington City Paper reported that the restaurant’s owners recently purchased a former clothing store at the corner of H and 10th streets Northeast.

Kamal Ali, one of chili bowl founder Ben Ali’s three sons, said he and his brother Nizam have been working with a real estate consultant and looking at the demographics and available real estate in a handful of neighborhoods. He said they’ve settled on H Street and Clarendon, in Arlington, as places where they would like to be.

“Clarendon is really nice. We are looking at that area hard and trying to identify opportunities there,” Ali said.


Ben's half-smoke and chili-cheese fries. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For The Washington Post)

But Ali and his brother are not in any rush. Their family has been in business for 52 years and Ben’s is probably Washington’s strongest brand; the restaurant has become a rite of passage for District politicians. Barack Obama ate a half-smoke there before he was even inaugurated. French President Nicolas Sarkozy also stopped in.

Before he even considers opening a restaurant on H Street, Ali said, he wants to talk to residents and neighbors about what they would like to see there.

“No matter what happens, I think it’s going to be a good investment,” he said.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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