According to Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that celebrates independent businesses throughout Arizona, downtown businesses have seen anywhere from an 80 to 100 percent decrease in profits over the last few months. Recognizing the need, Suns Charities huddled up with Local First and Devin Booker and committed to supporting downtown Phoenix-area restaurants and food vendors with $100,000 in funding that will go towards helping feed the hungry in our community. As part of the Suns’ Small Business Assist program, Mrs. Whites Golden Rule Cafe has received $5,000 that will underwrite meals for those in need.
To spotlight the participating business, we connected with the granddaughter of Mrs. White and Manager of the restaurant, Kianna White, who shared more about the local coffee shop, the partnership with the Phoenix Suns and giving back to the community.
Mrs. Whites Golden Rule Cafe
Mrs. Whites Golden Rule Cafe (808 E. Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85034) recently provided meals for Ryan House, a local nonprofit that provides respite and palliative hospice care for children and their families through a wide variety of support programs.
Can you provide a little history of Mrs. Whites?
Mrs. White herself moved to Phoenix from Temple, Texas in 1964 with her four children. Her brother, Floyd Jimerson, had a restaurant here called The Church Café that doubled as a church on Sundays. She moved here to help him run that cafe for the first six months in Phoenix and she did such an exceptional job running the restaurant, he handed it over to her so he could focus more on politics and civil rights advocacy. She took out a $500 business loan and turned the restaurant to Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café and she was in that original location from 1964 until 1976. We relocated and have been in the same location on 808 East Jefferson for the past 44 years.
What drives the passion behind Mrs. Whites Golden Rule Cafe?
Our menu and how we make everything is inspired by the way Mrs. White was raised. We stay true to the quality of our food and how we make it. She wanted to bring the same quality and pure ingredients from her upbringing to the restaurant and that is why taste and consistency are so important to her. She’s 97 and still comes in making sure everything is served the right way and the way she was brought up.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Downtown Phoenix culture?
It’s great! When Mrs. White first moved to Phoenix the city was still pretty segregated in the 1960s. My mother told me that back then we as Blacks didn’t go to certain parts of towns or were allowed to shop north of Thomas Road. As a part of Downtown Phoenix and since she opened the doors to the cafe, Mrs. White always took pride in being a restaurant where anyone could eat and that’s obviously still true to this day. To be downtown where all types of people live and work, it means a lot for us to cook and serve and to make everyone feel like they’re back in their grandma’s kitchen.
How important is giving back to the community to Mrs. Whites Golden Rule Cafe and what does it mean to you to team up with the Phoenix Suns?
We’ve been a part of the community for more than 50 years, it’s so important to us to be a heartbeat for the community and a pillar of the city. We don’t turn away anyone, if someone arrives hungry, we will feed them. We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the community, so we always try to give back to the city that helped with our success. We consider ourselves a staple of the Phoenix community, just like the Suns. Phoenix Suns players have been eating at Mrs. Whites since they first became a team in 1968! From Connie Hawkins to Charles Barkley to the newest players on the team, they’ve all visited and returned to enjoy our food. It means a lot to us to partner with the Suns and we always appreciate their support, now more than ever.
What are your current capabilities and what are some current offerings you would like to highlight?
Our hours are still the same and we’re still offering our full menu, but we’ve switched to takeout and delivery only. We’re continuing to monitor the health situation and will not open dine-in until it’s been deemed safe, or as we like to say: we won’t open until Disneyland does!
Why is it important to support local businesses?
Wherever we can, we always do. On a personal level, whenever my father and I hear of a new local restaurant in town we always try to visit and support and to this day we still support other local eateries and stores. We are local, we eat local and we shop local for everything we can for the restaurant from produce, meat and we even use a local shop to print our menus and t-shirts. With everything going with COVID-19, I made it a point to order take-out from local businesses as often as I could to help support our community where I can.
How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your business model?
By the grace of God, we have maintained a steady flow of business, but we had to change to takeout or delivery only. We teamed up with Postmates and Door Dash for the first time for delivery which has been very new to us but has worked out well so far. We’re just being more cautious now and have increased the frequency of cleaning the restaurant and ensuring everything is sanitized so people feel safe coming to pick up food.
What is it going to take for small businesses to survive this difficult time?
Support. It’ll take the support of our community and other small businesses. Consistency is also key, and we’ve been blessed that despite being takeout only, our routine customers have remained consistent in supporting us. The outpouring of business from the community has been tremendous. I think it’s beautiful to see the community rally and support small businesses and keep them afloat during the tough time.
Place an order at Mrs. Whites Golden Rule Cafe by calling (602) 262-9256 or stop in at 808 E. Jefferson Street. Be on the lookout for more local restaurant profiles from the Phoenix Suns as we continue to partner with Local First.