For the latter half of the 20th century and now moving dependably into the 21st, Annie's Paramount Steak House has offered a warm welcome to those looking for a bite or beverage along 17th Street NW. That holds even more so for gay D.C. denizens who found a refuge in Annie's, a place to hold hands or otherwise let their hair down during decades when being gay could get a person fired – or worse.
Raul DeGuzman wasn't in need of a safe haven, but he did want a comfortable spot. And with friends working at Annie's, DeGuzman would routinely drop by.
Annie's Paramount Steak House: Raul De Guzman
(Photo by Todd Franson)
''Before I started working at Annie's, I would sit at the bar,'' says DeGuzman, today the venue's general manager. ''One day, when Annie was still bartending she was going through the checks. She just looked at me and said, 'What's your name again?' 'Raul, why?' 'Aren't you here for your check?' 'No. I don't work here.' That's how frequently I was there.''
Preparing for semi-retirement a few years back, DeGuzman might have been back plenty more as a patron, sitting at namesake Annie Kaylor's bar with his new free time. The economy, however, had different ideas.
''I already had quit my other job and then the stock market and everything fell out,'' he explains. ''Since I came here a lot, one day the owner said, 'Do you want to help out?'''
From there, DeGuzman began working as host a couple days a week, eventually moving up to the general manager position. In that position, he's ushered the restaurant into becoming a 100 percent donor for Dining Out for Life. And even though that elite donor level is going to make for a crowded night, DeGuzman is eager to welcome the hungry masses.
''That's actually one of the funnest nights we have,'' he admits. ''People are here enjoying themselves, supporting a cause. I enjoy working that night. It's not actually work. It is hard, it does get crazy, but ultimately it's for a goal. At the end of the day, you know it's going to Food & Friends.''
''Annie's has always supported gay causes," he says. "And most of the people who have worked here belong to the GLBT community, including me.''
Annie's Paramount Steak House is located at 1609 17th St. NW. Call 202-232-0395.
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- Annie's Paramount Steak House
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- Complete List of Participating Restaurants in DC, Maryland & Virginia