WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) --- Ben's Chili Bowl has been on U Street for more than 50 years. The historical restaurant serves locals and tourists with its signature chili dogs, half smokes and fries.
Tonight, Ben's Chili Bowl owner, Virginia Ali, celebrated her 80th birthday with hundreds of friends at the Lincoln Theatre next door to her family's restaurant.
Ali is one of the most influential and respected people in town. Locals, tourists, presidents and foreign dignitaries have all savored a half smoke or chili dog.
"I just love this city and I love my community," said Ali.
A few hundred friends, elected leaders gathered at the Lincoln Theatre to share in the festive occasion.
Comedian Bill Cosby, a longtime friend, came to town and served as Master of Ceremonies.
WUSA9's Bruce Johnson also served as a guest host.
Between the laughter and singing, friends expressed their love.