By Patty Talahongva
A busboy and a cook walk into a restaurant and become part of the family that runs the restaurant. Twenty years later, they buy the place and continue operating My Mother’s Restaurant, 4130 N. 19th Ave., in the same just-like-family business model.
Geodron Guillen was 22 when he started as a cook. “It was a smaller menu,” he recalls. Back then a prime rib dinner cost $4.99. His cousin, Manuel Guillen, recalls part of his job as a busboy was to carry two ashtrays when he checked on tables. In those days, smoking was allowed inside restaurants.
The two cousins and their partner, Elias Valdez, have owned My Mother’s Restaurant since 2005. They took over the day-to-day operations in January 2006. All three worked for the original owner Joan Videen and her son, Randy. She still visits the restaurant she opened in 1977, and her granddaughter works there part time.
Children of longtime customers know the drill. The minute they walk into the restaurant a toy chest waits for them and each child is allowed to select one toy to take home. Coloring books and crayons are also available for the little ones as is a menu designed for them featuring Pot Roast Jr., Chicken Tenders, a 6-inch bear or dinosaur pizza, or a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich—each costing less than $6.
My Mother’s serves traditional home-cooked food mixed with a little bit of Italian, and a perennial favorite, chicken fried steak. It’s a large and diverse menu, and Geo is proud of their good food, good service and “the prices are good, too,” he adds. When the cousins took over they added a pork chop dinner and Sea Bass to the menu.
Lunch specials are each day from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sandwiches, salads, pork chops, prime rib, pasta and turkey potpie are just a few of the menu items.
Geo recalls the time when former Arizona Gov. Rose Mofford came into the restaurant and wanted a plain old hamburger. The only trouble was they didn’t have a hamburger on the menu—but they had all the ingredients. So they whipped up one for Mofford and added it to the menu, where it’s become a popular item.
Dinner specials are offered nightly and every Friday you can get a Prime Rib dinner for $14.99. Manuel estimates a family of four can expect to spend around $40 for dinner.
Almost nothing in the restaurant is frozen; only fresh meats, fresh cheese and fresh vegetables are used. Some of the cooks have been working there for more than 20 years—“longer than us,” laughs Geo.
Bread is baked fresh daily and only costs $1.99 if you want to buy a loaf to take home. If any loaves are left over the next day, the price drops to $1.25.
Pies are another big customer favorite, and the slices are huge—a full quarter of the pie. Fruit pies include apple, cherry, blueberry and peach. Cream pies are banana, chocolate, coconut and strawberry. My Mother’s serves pumpkin pie year-round. Sign up on the mailing list and get a coupon for a free slice of pie on your birthday.
My Mother’s does deliver, and the delivery area runs from Roosevelt Street north to Northern Avenue, and 43rd Avenue east to 16th Street. There is a minimum order of $10 and a small surcharge for all deliveries. Catering is available for groups of 10 or larger. The smaller dining room that once served as the non-smoking room can be reserved for private parties.
The only thing small about this place is the bar—it has just four bar stools, but it also as a TV to watch games.
“It’s a good family restaurant,” says Manuel. “We have a customer who still remembers when I was a busboy.” Today, even as one of the owners, he still busses tables when restaurant get busy because the 27 employees and the owners know that in a family restaurant, you treat your customers like family.
My Mother’s Restaurant is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, and 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday. For more information, visit www.mmrestaurant.qwestoffice.net or call 602-279-7225.