Diner That Was Site Of Historic 1965 LGBT Rights Protest To Close On Memorial Day

Philadelphia’s Little Pete’s is disappearing from Center City sooner than anyone thought. Although developers for the hotel that will replace the iconic diner at 17th and Chancellor had set August 31 as the deadline for vacating the space, owner Pete Koutroubas has decided to shut down earlier. He’s also throwing a farewell party. As reported by Philly Chit Chat, the last day of operation for Little Pete’s will be Monday, May 29 — Memorial Day. On the following Tuesday, Koutroubas is planning a block party to thank his many customers.

And here’s why the diner has a place in LGBT history:

We know the term ‘sit-in’ as just one aspect of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In Philadelphia, four years before Stonewall, a different sit-in took place. Dewey’s was, at the time, a chain of coffee shops across the city. The 13th Street Dewey’s, open all night, was known as “the fag Dewey’s,” where queer customers mingled with cops needing coffee, a cross-section of life on 13th Street.

The other Dewey’s, however, were determined not to follow suit. The 17th Street Dewey’s, just off Rittenhouse Square (today the site is known as Little Pete’s) was open about refusing gay customers and those wearing non-conformist clothing, which is to say non-gender-conforming clothing.

More than 150 people – black, white, gay, lesbian and transgender – took part in the first protest on Sunday, April 25th, 1965. Three protesters were arrested. The Janus Society, a local gay-rights group, spread leaflets in support, and a second sit-in occurred on Sunday, May 2. The establishment, in the end, agreed to end their discrimination.