Popular Washington, D.C., restaurant removes mural featuring Bill Cosby

A popular Washington, D.C., restaurant has removed a mural featuring embattled comedian Bill Cosby, temporarily replacing it with a white wall as fans vote for who they want to see on a new version of the display.

As the Washingtonian reports, Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C. painted over the mural on Wednesday night, covering over images of former President Barack Obama, musician Chuck Brown, and DJ Donnie Simpson in addition to Cosby in the process.

According to artist W. Ellington Felton, who helped with the mural’s removal, the restaurant decided to nix the display because “Obama’s not in office. It’s the end of an era.” On its website, the restaurant notes that the mural, which went up in 2012, had “5 years of braving the elements” under its belt, and needed a touch-up.

Ben’s also asked restaurant-goers for their input about who to feature on the replacemenet mural. The list ranges from rapper Wale to celebrity chef Rachel Ray, and also includes Cosby, Obama, and Brown as options, though Simpson is missing from the ballot. The new mural is expected to be painted in the spring, according to the Ben’s site.

The restaurant, which opened in 1958, remained supportive of Cosby as allegations of sexual misconduct and assault mounted through 2014 and 2015. Vida Ali, who is a member of the family that operates Ben’s, told Washington City Paper in 2014 that Cosby is “part of our family.”

The privilege has resulted in free meals for Cosby at Ben’s, though it is unclear whether the perk still remains following the removal of the mural. The only other people who are offered free meals at Ben’s are the Obamas, according to the Washington Post.

Cosby currently faces three counts of aggravated assault in relation to the case of Andrea Constand, the former head of Temple University’s women’s basketball team, who says Cosby sexually assaulted her in 2004. It is the first time Cosby has been charged with a crime in connection with the dozens of women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.