September 9, 2020


After four generations and nearly 100 years in the City the Saginaw, Whites Bar manager Allysha Guldenzoph says nothing could have prepared the business for the past six months.
"We heard rumors of places having to close and our plan was just to push through as long as we could," Guldenzoph says. "When we closed on March 15th, we were only expecting to be closed for a week or two. We thought 'This is going to blow over'."
But almost six months later, the closure is still affecting White’s Bar. Restaurants are able to offer indoor service if they follow the state's social distancing guidelines, but because White's doesn't serve food, indoor service isn't an option.
"Even if we were able to be open indoors, social distancing would be difficult because we're such a small venue," she says. "I want to look out for the well being of our customers and staff, and financially it would be difficult to operate in a space with a capacity of only a few people."
But a family business doesn't make its way through four generations without a little creativity and determination.
"Our bar has been in the family since 1937," she says. "My great-grandfather Lambert opened it up, and he and my great-grandmother Odetta lived on the other side of this wall. They would serve people breakfast, lunch, and dinner because back then, you didn't need a food license. My grandpa took over in 1962, and my dad, Robert White, took over in 1984.” In 1984, the business was primarily a beer and shot bar.
But then Robert White and Sue White brought music to White’s.
Sue worked for the Saginaw News, so she knew when musicians were coming to the area or would interview them and then encourage them to go to White’s and play.
Then, in 2014, Guldenzoph’s parents began talking about selling the bar.
“I couldn’t let the bar leave my family,” she says. “So I left my job to become the manager.”
Although her work experience prepared her for customer service, it didn’t prepare her for a global pandemic. A few weeks ago, Guldenzoph and an associate were discussing how to keep the bar running.
“We were talking about everything from getting wooden pallets and tarps to make something work outside,” she says. “We didn’t have any capital left from being closed for so long, but we wanted to make something work.”
Sitting next to them was Antonio Cuellar of Cuepop Entertainment LLC.
“He offered to help with things like DJ services, lights, tables, chairs, a PA system and a portable bar”, she says.
With Cuellar’s help and the same creativity and determination that has kept the 83-year-old business open for four generations, White’s Bar reopens today, September 9th at 2 PM.
“Everyone has been encouraging us through all of this and saying they’ve been looking forward to our reopening,” she say. “It’s been amazing.”