Ben's Chili Bowl opens in Arlington

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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP/WJLA) - A District of Columbia landmark is expanding across the Potomac.

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Photo: Kendall Griggs/WJLA

Ben's Chili Bowl opened its first location in Virginia on Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Arlington.

Bill Cosby, the restaurant's most famous cheerleader, cut the ribbon and entertained a crowd of several hundred that turned out to get one of Ben's signature chili half-smokes.

Cosby, a Navy veteran, said he's glad Ben's opened in Arlington because he may be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. 

“So my ghost can get up and make the trip here instead of flying all the way over to U Street,” he said.

Ben and Virginia Ali opened their restaurant in 1958 in U Street in the District. It stayed open through race riots in the late '60s that devastated the neighborhood and has been a keystone in that neighborhood's revitalization.

Thursday's opening marks the first new stand-alone Ben's Chili Bowl since the original opened more than 55 years ago. The Ali family says it may look to expand further if the Arlington location is a success.

“We want to eventually franchise so we want to put together three models, the first one here, second at National Airport, and the third at H Street Northeast,” says Kamal Ali. 

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