Why this DC restaurant has ‘Pride Month’ in its DNA

WTOP is marking Pride Month by showcasing the people, places and important issues in the LGBTQ+ communities in the D.C. area. Check back all throughout June as we share these stories, on air and online.

A restaurant in D.C.’s Dupont Circle seems to have Pride Month built into its DNA.

Annie’s Paramount Steak House, founded in 1948 by Greek immigrant George Katinas, has been a staple of the local LGBTQ+ community for decades.

Katinas employed all five of his sisters, including Annie, who was known for being an extrovert with a fun, colorful personality.

“She was not herself gay, but she was what many called ‘the original ally,'” said Georgia Katinas, the restaurant’s current general manager. “She … took the time to make people feel extremely welcome and comfortable and let them know that they were loved.”

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Annie — Georgia’s great aunt — helped the business build a reputation for creating a welcoming space for everyone, with employees going above and beyond to ensure that all customers feel like they belong. Many have said they’ve created a feeling of solidarity and acceptance.

“I think that she had several things happen in her own life where she appreciated people coming to her without judgment,” said Katinas. “She saw so many amazing people with good hearts and didn’t care about their sexuality and didn’t find that to be a reason to not speak to someone.”

There is one particular story from the 1960s that is still talked about to this day. Annie noticed two men in the restaurant who were holding hands with each other under the table. She walked right up to them and told them not to hide their affection and to hold their hands on top of the table instead.

“We’re talking about a time when people were really hiding their truth and hiding lifelong relationships, and Annie was always encouraging people to be themselves,” Katinas said.

The business works to remember and continue that tradition.

“It would be impossible not to! Annie’s is a predominantly gay restaurant, our staff, our clientele, the neighborhood has certainly changed,” said Katinas. “We’re very proud, and we will never shy away from our connection to the LGBTQ community — it is who we are.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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