Ben's Chili Bowl celebrates 55th anniversary with Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby was on hand to celebrate the 55th birthday of Ben's Chili Bowl. Photo: Indira LeVine

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - It’s been 55 years and Ben’s Chili Bowl is still going strong.

Ben’s chili bowl began as the dream of Virginia and her late husband Ben Ali and has grown to be iconic in Washington and nationally known.

“We're still here we have the same stools we had in 1958,” says Virginia Ali. “The same counter the same booths as in 1958.”

What started as a small sandwich stop in the heart of the city hasn't changed much over the years - but a lot is different.

The humble neighborhood eatery over the years grew in fame and has served presidents, well known entertainers and is now nearly as popular a tourist spot as any of the D.C. monuments. On Thursday at Ben's, the powerful became just regular customers.

“This is our watering hole. Our oasis in the desert for so many years,” said Jesse Jackson.

And the restaurants most famous supporter led the cheers celebrating 55 special years.

“To celebrate Ben's is to celebrate those who live here were born here and are close to never leaving here,” said iconic comedian Bill Cosby.

Ben's is now inextricably woven into the fabric of the nation’s capital. it started with a simple business plan: Provide good eats and a great atmosphere to gather.

Fifty-five years later, it holds true to that mission.