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Updated Aug 11, 2014 - 7:08 am

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.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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