Ben's Chili Bowl, the D.C. landmark for half-smokes, which became even more landmarkish when Barack Obama stopped by during Inauguration week, is doing alright. Still on a the-president-visited-us high, this is their second season in concession stand form at Nationals Park, and they even make a cameo in the new State of Play flick.
You would think it's time to go even bigger? Not really.
Ben’s Chili Bowl oozes character, which is found not just on the walls covered with grip-and-grin celebrity snapshots. It’s also found on the griddle next to the front window where blackened sausages have been glistening with grease for decades. It’s found behind the white counter where employees in Chili Bowl smocks banter and bullshit daily with customers. It’s found in the gurgling juice dispensers, the squeeze bottles of ketchup, the old illuminated menu above the prep station, even in the long, frustrating lines that wind around the place.
As Tim Carman of the Washington City Paper points out, that ain't easy to replicate. But owner Nizam Ali has one teeny development in mind: a shipping business. Someday, D.C. transplants may get to have those tubed meats sent right to their doorstep.