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African American Heritage Trail, Washington, DC
Ben's Chili Bowl / Minnehaha Theater
1213 U Street, NW

Ben's Chili Bowl, founded in 1958 by Ben and Virginia Ali, is one of the oldest continuous businesses on U Street. It is also one of the few to survive both the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and the years of the disruptive Metro construction in the late 1980s. Thanks in part to the patronage of entertainer Bill Cosby, Ben's has become a national landmark. The restaurant occupies the former Minnehaha Theater, a 1910 movie house owned and operated from 1913 to 1920 by Sherman H. Dudley, once a leading vaudeville performer and entrepreneur.
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