Line out the door at Ben's 1/20, courtesy of Andrew Bossi (Flickr)

Line out the door at Ben's 1/20, courtesy of Andrew Bossi (Flickr)

After a year and a half of living around the corner from Ben’s Chili Bowl, I’ve only seen a line out the door and in the alley a handful of times. The first time was their 50th anniversary celebration in August of 2008, and all of the subsequent times have been in the past week. It’s insane. In a given day, I walk by Ben’s a few times getting to and from where I need to go, and nearly every time I’ve walked by since last Saturday, there’s been a line out the door. I thought it had finally gotten less busy on Friday when around 8 pm there was no line out the door, but today when I walked by around 2 pm there was a freakin’ line out the door AGAIN.

What gives? I know that Barack Obama’s visit has risen the profile of Ben’s, but surely all of the inauguration tourists have headed home by now. And it’s not like Ben’s was unbusy before President Obama visited, but you could go in at say, 5 pm on a Tuesday and have 2 people in line in front of you instead of 300. I don’t really understand where all of these people are coming from, did people who live in the area decide it’d been too long since they’d been and all head out at the same time? I don’t know.

I just hope that these long lines will dissipate and that people from the ‘hood like me can still go without waiting for 2 hours on a random afternoon. I’m glad Ben’s is doing great business (can you imagine how much money they’ve made in the last week?) but I do hope it dies down a bit so when I have a hankering for a half smoke or chili cheese fries I don’t have to wait outside in the cold for hours to get it.