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Iconic D.C. Landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl is First Recipient of #SaveOurRestaurants Initiative with History Channel and James Beard Foundation

Founder Virginia Ali and her family celebrating the 58th Anniversary of Ben’s Chili Bowi in 2018. (Photo: Ben’s Chili Bowl)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The first recipient of the #SaveOurRestaurants initiative is Ben’s Chili Bowl located in Washington, D.C., an establishment that has played a role in numerous key moments in America’s history.

The HISTORY® Channel is partnering with the James Beard Foundation to #SaveOurRestaurants, a philanthropic initiative aimed at providing resources and aid to help preserve historic, landmark restaurants in America who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ben’s Chili Bowl, home of world-famous chili and mouth-watering half-smokes in Washington, D.C., will be a recipient of the “Save Our History” initiative. Funds and resources provided will help preserve the legacy of Ben’s Chili Bowl for future generations, with support to help restore the iconic interior and cherished historic photos within the restaurant.

From feeding those who marched on Washington in 1963 in the struggle for civil rights to hosting American presidents, Ben’s Chili Bowl has served as an integral part of Washington, D.C. history since its founding in 1958. Over time, Ben’s owners have launched a charitable foundation and expanded their operations from one location to six and e-commerce. Ben’s Chili Bowl has weathered past recessions, but with COVID-19, the restaurant is facing its toughest challenge yet.

Start TAGGING Independent Restaurants

Iconic foods and restaurants are part of the fabric of our country. Local restaurants are where we gather, celebrate and build our history together. The HISTORY Channel is encouraging viewers to share a photo, video or nostalgic memory of their favorite local eatery across America by using #SaveOurRestaurants and tagging @HISTORY on Instagram. For every photo, video or story submitted, The HISTORY Channel will donate $1-up to $20,000- to the James Beard Foundation’s “Open for Good” initiative to help support independent restaurants affected by the pandemic. The network will drive awareness of the #SaveOurRestaurants initiative with a PSA and promotion across its linear, social media and digital platforms.

“With the launch of The HISTORY Channel’s series ‘The Food that Built America’ we have witnessed the nostalgic connections people hold close to their hearts and stomachs when it comes to food, and the restaurants they cherish,” said Kimberly Gilmore, SVP, Corporate Outreach & Chief Historian at A+E Networks. “The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted restaurants across the country, and some long-standing, iconic and historical establishments need a boost. Everyone can help play a role in preserving their favorite historic eateries like Ben’s Chili Bowl -together let’s unite and help save our local restaurants.”

“The James Beard Foundation is excited to partner with The HISTORY Channel and their mission to save landmark establishments, including those in the food industry, in need of aid through this crisis,” said Clare Reichenbach CEO of the James Beard Foundation. “Throughout the pandemic, the Foundation has been working to provide critical resources and support to the independent restaurant community through our ‘Open for Good’ campaign, and we’re proud to be a part of highlighting iconic restaurants that are a part of America’s dining history.”

The combined effort is as an extension of the network’s ongoing and award-winning public outreach campaign “Save Our History,” dedicated to preserving historic sites, and the James Beard Foundation’s “Open For Good” initiative, helping independent restaurants survive the COVID-19 crisis, rebuild better and thrive for the long term.

On The HISTORY Channel’s “Food That Built America” television series, viewers see how food plays a role in the American story. The series tells the fascinating history behind the titans who fought their way to the top of the food chain and bites into the rivalries between some of food’s biggest and most beloved brands such as Pizza Hut, Oreo, Kraft, McDonalds, Cheetos and more.

The fifteen-episode HISTORY Channel series includes expert commentary from celebrity chefs, food writers, and entrepreneurs such as Adam Richman, Marcus Samuelsson and Rza. Season two of “The Food That Built America” will premiere on The HISTORY Channel with a special sneak preview on Tuesday, February 9 at 10PM ET/PT before moving to its regular timeslot on Sundays at 9PM ET/PT.

In other News: 2020 James Beard Award Restaurant and Chef SemiFinalists

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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