Feb 13, 2023
For Valentine’s Day, the ABA Banking Journal Podcast — sponsored by xChange — brings you a classic boy-meets-girl love story. Virginia Rollins had moved to Washington, D.C., as a young woman in the 1950s and got a job as a teller at Industrial Bank, a Black bank still operating in the nation’s capital. A young bank customer named Ben Ali came in to make a deposit, but he was smitten with Virginia and left his phone number too.
To make a long story short, Virginia and Ben founded one of Washington’s most legendary dining establishments, Ben’s Chili Bowl in the heart of “Black Broadway” on U Street. Virginia reflects on her early career in banking, how the connections she made at the bank helped her and Ben grow their business and the importance of minority depository institutions today. She also shares stories of hosting Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, surviving the 1968 D.C. riots and the long years of urban renewal and how Ben’s has grown today.