Thursday, April 30, 2015

The sign might have slipped, but Bill Cosby still eats for free at Ben’s Chili Bowl

Diners picking up a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl might have assumed the eatery’s most controversial policy — that comic Bill Cosby, a longtime friend of the family that owns the D.C. restaurant, eats free — had changed.
The sign announcing the perma-perk for Cosby (and for President Obama) had become something of a lightning rod in the wake of accusations last year from multiple women that the “Cosby Show” star had drugged and sexually assaulted them. Some folks this week noticed it had disappeared, a move that touched off social-media speculation.
But the rule still stands, says Vida Ali, the daughter-in-law of Ben’s founder Ben Ali, and the sign was apparently a victim of grease, not second thoughts. The tape that held it up failed, she explained, and it was put aside near the register. Now it’s propped up on a counter in an inconspicuous spot.
“First it was just handwritten, then the grease got to it, so we had it laminated,” she said. “But it falls down all the time.”
Ali says she’s wrestled with how to respond to the allegations against Cosby, whose image also graces a mural on the side of the Ben’s building. “We’re sensitive to all the parties involved,” she said. “But if I call you a friend today, and you do something wrong tomorrow, I can say what you did is wrong but still consider you a friend. They are two different things.”

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