BenschilibowlThis will be my last post before Ted Johnson returns. I’d like to thank Ted for allowing me the opportunity to take the reigns of Wilshire & Washington while he was gone. It has been an honor and a privilege.

This week one D.C. institution lost its beloved founder while another new institution got off to a star-studded start.

On Wednesday Ben’s Chili Bowl Founder Ben Ali, 82, died of congestive heart failure at his home in the District. For those unfamiliar with the legendary diner on the U St. corridor of Northwest Washington, D.C. since 1958, it has seen famous politicos and celebrities pass through its doors along with its reputation as a spot where longtime local working class D.C. folk mix with newly arrived hipsters and tourists alike.

In addition to the cozy atmosphere, the food of course is a big draw with the best chili dogs, half-smokes and milkshakes in town. Quick side note — I used to work at the music venue the 9:30 Club a few blocks down from Ben’s Chili Bowl and can personally vouch for the chili dogs.

Ben Ali, who immigrated from Trinidad, welcomed famous faces such as Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington, Chris Tucker, Bono and Shaquille O’Neal.

Ted Koppel held his “Nightline” farewell party in 2005 at the diner and Hillary Rodham Clinton could be spotted there.

But perhaps Ali’s most famous guest was President Obama, who made a scene when he stopped by for a bite to eat earlier this year.

Also, scenes from “The Pelican Brief” and “State of Play” were filmed in the restaurant.

The Washington Post has a great photo gallery of Ben’s Chili Bowl through the years. 

LegendOn Thursday, D.C. held a Hollywood-style bash to celebrate the reopening of the historic Hotel Washington as the W Hotel. 

The hotel, built in 1917, offers spectacular views of the White House and the Washington Monument but was falling into disrepair before the renovation which turned the building into the W Hotel. 

The opening party included stars such as singer John Legend, actresses Emmy Rossum and Tatyana Ali, and basketball player Robert Horry. 

Legend performed at the event.

Some might recognize the Hotel Washington from “The Godfather II” in the memorable scene between Diane Keaton and Al Pacino in which they have an epic argument over birthing the future of the Corleone family.

Josh Marks