Initially opened as a “musty little beer joint” in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC, Paramount Steakhouse (later renamed Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse)) became a haven for the LGBTQ+ community, almost entirely by accident. George Katinas and his sisters—Annie, Sue, Kitty, and Sophie—were descendants of Greek immigrants who were dedicated to ensuring the restaurant’s success.
The Katinas operated the restaurant as a family affair, treating customers like kin and working diligently to provide patrons with the best possible service and care. The restaurant became recognized for the family’s openness, kindness, and acceptance of customers—in addition to the steakhouse’s good food, lighthearted atmosphere, and a charismatic woman behind the counter: Annie Katinas. Described as a “force of nature,” Annie Katinas Kaylor (1927-2013) is remembered fondly by patrons and family alike. Paul Kuntzler, a pioneering advocate for gay rights who visited the restaurant for the first time in the 1960s, described Annie as such: “She went out of her way to understand the lives of the people whom she was serving and to instill her values into the restaurant staff…It’s hard to think of anyone who isn’t gay or lesbian who played such a prominent role in the gay and lesbian community.”
Renamed Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse in 1962, the restaurant expanded in various locations across the district—however, the original location continued to act as a gathering place for the gay community of Washington. Even following the lull in business connected to the vandalism following Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, loyal customers continued to support Annie’s and traverse the city to come have dinner or a drink at the restaurant. In 1985, Annie’s moved a block down the street to 1609 17th Street NW, while the original building became home to JR’s Bar (1519 17th Street NW), which currently operates as a gay bar, carrying the legacy of Annie’s acceptance and community cultivation into the present-day.
DC Inventory: December 17, 2020