Our History Part 2: To the Table

The 1934 end of Prohibition brought renewed excitement to downtown DC. At the Harrington it took the form of the Pink Elephant Cocktail Lounge, touted by a nightlife critic as just the place for a “cozy tete-a-tete,” and featuring cocktails that “hit the spot.” As war loomed in the late 1930s, the Pink Elephant was replaced by the more dignified Harrington Tavern, but in the early 1950s the Pink Elephant returned with the latest in modern decor, including spacious red circular booths.

The Harrington’s elegant white-tablecloth dining room had been a popular spot for meetings of the Washington Board of Trade and many other civic and professional groups through the 1930s. Huge increases to DC’s downtown workforce during World War II, and a faster pace of life afterwards, led the Harrington to convert the dining room to the self-service Kitcheteria. A favorite of tourists and office workers alike, the Kitcheteria served more than 1 million meals annually during its 1948-1991 run.

Ollie’s Trolley opened at the hotel’s 12th Street corner in 1989, succeeding the Beefe ‘n’ Rolle and the mid-1960s’ Queen Bess Coffee Shop. Harry’s pub opened in the former Pink Elephant Lounge in 1993, followed by Harriet’s Family Restaurant in 2005, in the former Kitcheteria.

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