Ben Ali (businessman)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mahaboob Ben Ali
Born Mahaboob Ben Ali
(1927-06-13)June 13, 1927
San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago
Died October 7, 2009(2009-10-07) (aged 82)
Nationality Trinidadian
Citizenship British (1927-1945)
Occupation Businessman, Restaurateur
Known for Ben's Chili Bowl
Spouse(s) Virginia Rollins

Mahaboob Ben Ali (June 13, 1927 – October 7, 2009), known as Ben Ali, was an Indo-Trinidadian American businessman and restaurateur. 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 British Trinidad and Tobago 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 British ruled Northern India as indentured laborers.[1] He was raised in the town of San Juan, which is located east of the capital city 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. 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.

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 "Ben Ali, 82, Whose Chili Bowl Became a D.C. Landmark, Dies". Washington Post. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  2. ^ Witchel, Alex (December 23, 2009). "Ben Ali: Hot Sauce". The New York Times Magazine. Archived from the original on April 8, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Ben Ali Bio Summary". Bens Chili Bowl. Archived from the original on 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-01-30.