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Owner of downtown Phoenix restaurant looks back on 50 years of business

PHOENIX — A popular Valley restaurant is about to turn 50.

It was Oct. 1964 when Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café started serving up “Soul Food” at 8th Street and Jefferson in downtown Phoenix.

Elizabeth White, 91, said they have great things on the menu.

“Chicken Fried Steak. Oh, [the customers] love their chicken. We have pork chops, we have catfish and we have sword fish,” White said as she named just a few of the things the restaurant offers.

Over the years, the place has seen its share of celebrities come through the door.

“We had James Brown and his group,” she said. We’ve had Doc Severinson of the “Tonight” Show, we’ve had Shaquille O’Neal and Lou Rawls.”

And then there’s Charles Barkley.

“When he played with the Suns, he was definitely a regular,” White said.

She joked that, “I think that’s why he probably couldn’t perform as well because he was probably eating too many chitlins!”

The “Golden Rule” part comes when you pay the bill. You don’t get the check. After customers finish eating, they just come to the worker at the cash register and tell them what they ordered.

“We try to be honest with people and fair with people, and we want them to be honest and fair with us,” said White. “We want them to just come up and say, ‘We had chicken and lemonade and pie, or whatever they did eat.”

White is also a pastor and said she knows the secret to both a successful business and a long life.

“Trusting in the living God,” she said. “He’s the only one that can carry you through.”

The entire interview with Mrs. White will air on Aug. 16 at 7:30 a.m. on KTAR 92.3.