The Ali family, longtime owners of Washington, D.C.’s famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, has maintained a steadfast public loyalty to entertainer Bill Cosby, who has been something of a mascot to the restaurant for decades. He famously eats free at Ben’s, his giant portrait adorns the mural on the outside of the original U Street location, he cut the ribbon at the opening of their Arlington restaurant in 2014 — the Alis say he is family and one does not turn their back on family when the going gets tough. There have been recent signs, however, that the Alis are having second thoughts.

Ben's Chili Bowl's chili half-smoke is Washington's official food.

Ben’s Chili Bowl’s chili half-smoke is Washington’s official food.

A large portrait of Cosby in the Arlington restaurant has recently been removed. Last year, at the opening of the new restaurant on H Street, there were no signs of a Cosby connection. As of now, his original mural portrait remains. The Alis are in a very difficult position given their history with Cosby but they appear to be very gently putting some space between themselves and the radioactive comedian.