The only thing better than sitting down and enjoying some golden brown southern fried chicken, mouth watering, smothered chicken or a pork chop dinner at Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café, is the amazing story of how one of Arizona’s longest operated African American businesses came to be. The story of how a single African American woman with 4 young children managed to acquire a business in the early 60’s prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Bill and Voting Rights Act, when African American were struggling just to make ends meet, is remarkable.
Mrs. White arrived in Phoenix by way of Temple, Texas, in January of 1963, secondary to an invitation from her brother – the late Floyd Jimmerson, to come out and assist him with his business a small café, known as the Church Café. The struggling business had more promise than customers’ and eight months later Floyd informed his sister that he was moving to New Mexico where the opportunity might be greater.
Mrs. White a strong spiritual person prayed and asked the Lord for guidance on what to do, go back home to Texas or remain in Phoenix. “I believe the Lord would not have brought me here and abandoned me,” said Mrs. White, who serves up some hot sermons on Sundays as well. The will and spirit to stay outweighed the desire to return to Texas, so Mrs. White discussed the matter with her two most consistent customers – Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln Ragsdale (both deceased).
The Ragsdales owned and operated Universal Memorial Mortuary and Mr. R had been a highly decorated member of the Tuskegee Airman during WWII. The Ragsdales gave Mrs. White a $500.00 dollar loan, as Mr. R would say, “the bank was not loaning money to Negroes on a consistent basis, and certainly not to a Negro woman with little or no collateral. Mrs. White purchased the property from her brother and set out to establish the business under the name and concept of the “Golden Rule” – “do unto others as yea would have them do unto you.”
The early years were a struggle; the business was open seven days a week and 24 hours a day in an effort to generate a profit. Mrs. White and her children did it all back then. Larry Sr., her second oldest handled the evening and late night shift. “Often times we did not have change for a $10, so I would send one of the kids next door to buy a small item,” recalled Mrs. White. “The passage of the Civil Rights Bill, Affirmative Action and other laws that allowed Black men and women to acquire better jobs was a blessing,” said Mrs. White. After attending manager and food handling training, (LEAP and other city sponsored programs) in the evening following a long day at the Cafe, Mrs. White satisfied all of the requirements to own and operate a business that served hot meals.
The most successful time in those early years was when the Phoenix Open would come to town and Black caddies for the professional golfers would come in the Café throughout the week, eat a full meal, and leave a few dollars tip.
The City relocated the business in 1976 from its original location at 1029 E. Jefferson, just west to 808 E. Jefferson.
In the same year, Mrs. White was honored as the “first business” in the Phoenix metropolitan area to go completely “non-smoking.”
Believing that the food, not the opportunity to smoke at her business would bring customers back, Mrs.White stuck to her decision and has remained “smoke free”.
Honored regularly as the Best Soul Food Business by New Times Magazine, Mrs. White’s has continued to honor their slogan – “Good food is not cheap and cheap food is not good, we serve Good food at reasonable prices.”
Mrs. White and Larry Sr. have contributed to the Phoenix community in many ways, often hiring and training individuals that are seeking to enter the restaurant business or that have had difficulty in other pursuits.
Word of Mrs. White’s quality food and tasty southern prepared meals has drawn customers from all walks of life such as professional athletes, world renowned recording artists, people from around the US and from various parts of the world.
If you are looking for a quality home cooked meal, delicious home-made desserts, as well as fresh cooked vegetables then Mrs. White’s is the place for you.
We are open 7 days a week from 10:30am – 7pm and open late 9pm – 3am Friday & Saturday only for your dining pleasure.
Dine in or call your order in (602) 262-9256. Located at 808 E. Jefferson Street in Phoenix.
Mrs. White’s – Golden Rule Café, an Arizona Landmark for 44 years.