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Historic ‘Ben’s Chili Bowl’ to get relief loan

Black History

Ben's Chili Bowl (Washingtonian)

With the restaurant industry experiencing hard times from COVID-19 due to restrictions against large gatherings, many restaurants have been forced to close or switch over to takeout service only.

Since the roll out of the stimulus package and its various relief programs aimed toward small businesses, there has been a lot of controversy about how the loans have been distributed in particular when it comes to marginalized communities.

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a historic restaurant located in Washington, D.C., that while trying to adapt to the new reality was not immune to the struggles that many small businesses have staying afloat.

Sage Ali, of the Ali family that owns the restaurant chain, says that the business’ bank informed him that the application for the loan was approved for the second round of PPPs since it was rejected the first time around.

“Things are good … and we’re very thankful for that,” Ali said in an interview with Shoppe Black.

As of right now, the chain has not received the money but Ali said that it should cover at least two months of the payroll for the four restaurants that the family owns. During the COVID-19 pandemic, only the original restaurant has remained open for takeout and delivery.

Although the loan will give the institution a breath of fresh air, Ali says adapting to this new world will still be challenging given that the restaurant’s history as a popular gathering spot for locals.

“As you know, the Chili Bowl has been a real community gathering place, and we’ve created where the community goes,” said Ali. “Even beyond the DMV, it has become a global community gathering place.”