Horrific rape allegations against Bill Cosby have resurfaced, with the 14th women accusing the comedian of sexual assault coming forward this past weekend. But, for now, “America’s dad” doesn’t have to worry about one potential consequence: Ben’s Chili Bowl says Cosby is still welcome for free food anytime he wants.
Cosby is a longtime supporter of the historic establishment and moderated Ben’s Chili Bowl’s 55th anniversary event. He even went to Arlington in March to attend the grand opening of the restaurant’s Virginia outpost. And anyone who’s been on U Street NW lately knows that there’s a huge mural of Cosby plastered outside the establishment. Cosby and, after the 2008 election, the Obama family, are famously the only people who eat free at Ben’s.
The recent news hasn’t changed that. “Cosby is part of our family,” Vida Ali, a member of the family that owns Ben’s, tells City Desk.
Ali would not comment on the specific allegations, but says customers have come to the restaurant expressing their support for Cosby and questioning why these allegations are resurfacing after so long. Today, PoPville posted a Flickr photo of someone with their thumbs down in front of the mural.
“Cosby being part of our family, it’s natural that it’s part of the discussion,” says Ali. “But it’s been in a positive light, and it’s wanting to support him.”
In 2006, Cosby settled a civil lawsuit alleging that he repeatedly sexually assaulted a woman, though he has never been charged with a crime. The accusations date back to decades ago, and he has largely remained quiet amid these recent allegations, releasing a statement this weekend just saying the accusations are “discredited.”
Ali says the restaurant is not considering painting over the mural or revoking his free-food privileges.