Ben Ali (businessman)

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Ben Ali
Born Mahaboob Ben Ali
(1927-06-13)June 13, 1927
Died October 7, 2009(2009-10-07) (aged 82)
Occupation businessman, restaurateur
Known for Ben's Chili Bowl

Mahaboob Ben Ali (June 13, 1927 – October 7, 2009), known as Ben Ali, was a Trinidadian-born American businessman and restaurateur, of Indian extraction. Ali co-founded Ben's Chili Bowl, a landmark restaurant located on U Street in Washington D.C., with his wife, Virginia Ali, in 1958.[1] Ben's Chili Bowl has since attracted presidents, celebrities and politicians.[2]


Early life[edit]

Ben Ali was born Mahaboob Ben Ali in Trinidad on June 13, 1927.[1] He was the firstborn child of seven[3] in a Muslim family.[1] Ali's grandparents had immigrated to Trinidad from northern India.[1] He was raised in the town of San Juan, Trinidad, which is located east of Port-of-Spain.[1]

Ali moved to the United States in 1945 as a student.[1] Ali, who had studied such poets as Wordsworth, Chaucer and Shakespeare while in Trinidad, originally planned to become a medical doctor.[1]

Ali enrolled at the University of Nebraska, but suffered a broken back as the result of a fall down an elevator shaft while at the school.[1] He spent months recovering from the accident. Following his recovery, Ali attended four separate universities before earning his bachelor's degree from Howard University in Washington D.C.[1]

Due to Islamic prohibitions against consuming pork, Ben Ali never consumed some of his restaurant's popular offerings.[1]

Man vs. Food - S02E12 - Washington, DC was made in tribute to him.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Href="http://Projects.Washingtonpost.Com/, <A (2009-10-09). "Ben Ali, 82, Whose Chili Bowl Became a D.C. Landmark, Dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  2. ^ Witchel, Alex (December 23, 2009). "Ben Ali: Hot Sauce". The New York Times Magazine. Archived from the original on 31 December 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Ben Ali Bio Summary". Bens Chili Bowl. Retrieved 2012-01-30.