Ben's Chili Bowl

Emerson Street Media created a branding video for Ben's Chili Bowl, a famous D.C. restaurant, capturing its rich history and essence through interviews and on-site footage, resulting in a product that resonated with the Ali family, owners since 1958.


We visited Ben’s on multiple occasions, gathering extensive interviews with the Ali family as well as natural moments of action and interaction at Ben’s. It truly is a magical place where memorable, spontaneous conversations happen all the time, so it was critical for us to spend time there capturing this look and feel. Even during the more restrictive times of COVID, we were able to witness plenty of situations where the magic of Ben’s shined through and put smiles on everyone who was there as a witness. Ben’s is about appreciating and understanding the past while also soaking-up and enjoying the present, a guiding theme that informed all of our work on the project.


If you took all of the history and great stories from Ben’s, you could easily produce a multi-part documentary. But for this project we needed to be very deliberate and strategic about capturing these rich elements while also remaining mindful that the finished product would need to be about five minutes long, give or take. To achieve this goal, we held multiple extensive conversations with members of the Ali family to understand the themes, stories and ideas that mattered most to them. This detailed prep work helped establish a storyboard and overall plan that would allow for a smooth and efficient shooting and editing process.


How do you tell the story of a truly iconic place that has been told many times before, and often done so with great skill, thought and emotion? That was our task in creating a branding video for Ben’s Chili Bowl, undeniably ‘the’ most famous and most universally beloved restaurant in D.C. We were excited and humbled to have the opportunity to produce this video, and to work with the incredible Ali family, which has owned and operated Ben’s since it opened in 1958.


Since we collaborated closely with the Ali family during the planning and production phases of the project, the first draft of the video was very much aligned with their vision and goals. We went through a few rounds of edits to get the project exactly where the Alis wanted it to be, and ultimately we were all very pleased with, and proud of, the final version of the video. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have worked with such a celebrated institution in our hometown of D.C. The experience was amazing from beginning to end and we only hope people enjoy watching the video as much as we enjoyed making it.

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