Now that the famed restaurant is celebrating its 55th anniversary, Cosby came back.
He wasn’t alone at the festivities on Friday (Aug. 23). The restaurant has always had a devoted and often famous following — a letter from President Barack Obama read at the celebration promised a return visit soon — and everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Ella Fitzgerald to Nat King Cole has eaten there at one time.
As for Cosby, he became a patron shortly after the restaurant opened. Still in the Navy at the time, Cosby brought Camille, later his wife, on dates to the place. Bill Cosby didn’t even forget his favorite chili restaurant in the 1980s, when he had the biggest show on television. When it came time to do a press conference for NBC in the Washington area, Cosby went back to Ben’s. “Bill could have done it at the White House, but he said at Ben’s,” Virginia Ali, wife of the restaurant’s founder told CNN.
Although many businesses in the area closed after the riots of 1968 or after subway construction closed down the road in the 1980s, Ben’s Chili House managed to survive long enough for Bill Cosby to return for another lunch.