On Jan. 26, Ben’s Chili Bowl announced on its website that it painted over the mural that had long graced the side of the building, which featured Majic 102.3 radio host Donnie Simpson, comedian Bill Cosby, Barack Obama, and Go-go musician Chuck Brown.

Ben’s Chili Bowl erases its famous mural to start a new year. (Courtesy Photo)

Ben’s Chili Bowl erases its famous mural to start a new year. (Courtesy Photo)

“Now, after five years of braving the elements, it’s time to refresh and repaint the mural and we want your input!” the website reads.

Ben’s Chili Bowl erases its famous mural to start a new year. (Courtesy Photo)

Ben’s Chili Bowl erases its famous mural to start a new year. (Courtesy Photo)

Virginia Ali, who runs the business with her children, said the decision to paint over these famous men wasn’t personal. “It was looking bad,” she told the Washington Post, “and we figured it’s a new year, so why not get started.”

The Ali’s are now taking suggestions from customers on who should be among the faces to grace the new wall. On its website, customers can vote from a list of people whom they would like to see on the next mural.

“I am sad to see the old one go, but the new wall offers a great opportunity get some Black women on it. I always felt like Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing – like, when can we get a sister up here on the wall,” Ward 6 resident Charles Medina told the AFRO. “It would be beautiful to get our mayor for life Marion Barry – and our first lady for life, Michelle Obama on the wall.”

Ben’s Chili Bowl erases its famous mural to start a new year. (Courtesy Photo)

Ben’s Chili Bowl erases its famous mural to start a new year. (Courtesy Photo)

Other suggestions from Ben’s customers as surveyed by the AFRO, include Oprah Winfrey, Dick Gregory and Shirley Chisolm. “We have got to turn this into our own local Mount Rushmore and it should include our local, homegrown heroes,” Ward 8 resident Michelle “Red” Bailey told the AFRO. “I want Dick Gregory on this wall because without him, our understanding of race, politics, and life, would be so much less than it is now. We need to honor him.”

Ben’s Chili Bowl was established in 1958 and became a local landmark after the 1968 riots that followed the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While much of the famed U Street corridor was destroyed in the aftermath of the riots, Ben’s was spared. In 2009, Mayor Adrian Fenty took then-President-elect Barack Obama to the restaurant, where he had a chili half-smoke and sweet tea.