The Politics of Ben’s Chili Bowl

A brief history of politicians going to the D.C. eatery midday to score political points.

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Lucia Graves
Nov. 13, 2013, 11:54 a.m.

Earli­er this week, Bus­boys and Po­ets own­er Andy Shal­lal kicked off his cam­paign to be D.C.’s next may­or at Ben’s Chili Bowl.

For the un­ini­ti­ated: Bus Boys and Po­ets reg­u­larly hosts au­thor read­ings and com­munity events; Ben’s Chili Bowl is where people go at 1 a.m., usu­ally after sev­er­al hours of drink­ing on U Street. Sure the ven­ue, which is loc­ated in the Shaw neigh­bor­hood of north­w­est Wash­ing­ton, has be­come a sym­bol of the neigh­bor­hood’s his­tory since its found­ing in 1958. We get why politi­cians want to cap­it­al­ize on that. But someone needs to tell these guys they’re do­ing it wrong.

A list of of­fend­ers:

Pres­id­ent Obama and then-D.C. May­or Ad­ri­an Fenty. (Man­del Ngan AFP/Getty Im­ages)

U.S. Census Bur­eau Dir­ect­or Robert Groves. (Alex Wong/Getty Im­ages)

Pres­id­ent Nic­olas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. (France, we ex­pec­ted bet­ter!) (Kenzo Tri­bouil­lard/AFP/Getty Im­ages)

DC May­or Vince Gray (of all people!) do­ing Ben’s Chili Bowl wrong. (Getty Im­ages)

This here is Pres­id­ent Obama do­ing it wrong. You might even say peak wrong­ness has been achieved. (Getty Im­ages)


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