The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District’s downtown reopened Tuesday with Ben’s Chili Bowl as one of its newest vendors.
“D.C. is open,” Greg O’Dell, president and CEO of Events DC, the organization that manages the convention center, said at a news conference at the facility. “At one time, we had a hospital here, ready to take on the overflow of COVID patients from other hospitals but we didn’t have to use it. We have also vaccinated over 100,000 people here.”
O’Dell said the center will host two major conventions in the coming days: the Otakon, the world’s largest gathering celebrating Japanese animation and East Asia culture, from Aug. 6-8 and Awesome Con, a celebration of geek culture from comics, movies and games, from Aug. 20-22. These are the first conventions to function in the city since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. In addition to Ben’s, there will be the sixth store of Shop Made in DC by the entrance of the South building on L Street NW.
Ben’s will be located inside the new District Eats area and will operate during all convention and show hours. Virginia Ali, co-founder of Ben’s, thanked Mayor Muriel Bowser and her administration for the opportunity to set up at the convention center.
“We want to thank the community for supporting us send we started in 1958,” Ali said. “It has been the community that has made the difference for us.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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