While the District waits to find out when Ben’s Chili Bowl will open their new location on H Street NE, Hill Now has discovered one ironclad fact: The owners want the new location to have a spunky, colorful bear statue.

According to the agenda of the Transportation and Public Space Committee of ANC 6A, Ben’s Chili Bowl has filed an “application for the placement of a statue in public space.” One well-placed source tells Hill Now that the statue will be a bear similar to the panda at the original Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW.

The original location received its rainbow-colored panda in 2004, when the D.C. Commission on the Arts backed a massive art project that scattered 150 whimsical panda statues throughout the city.

Named PandaMania!, the project was part of a push to promote the giant pandas at the National Zoo.

On U Street, the panda statue was never meant to become a long-term part of the Ben’s Chili Bowl experience. But our source tells us that their customers have embraced it over the years, with kids and adults alike taking pictures with the friendly beast.

Yesterday Hill Now reached out to J. Omar Mahmud, the ANC 6A commissioner whose name was attached to the agenda item, to check on the status of the Ben’s Chili Bowl statue application. We are still waiting to hear back.


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