Filed Under Business

Johnny Rose's Store

An All in One Store

The sign read "John Rose, Fancy Groceries: Shoe Repairing, Barber Shop, Pool Hall, Ice Cream, Confectionary, and Soft Drinks." At various times it was also a vaudeville stage, silent movie theater, lunch counter, and classroom. Who was the man offering Scottsdale so much entertainment? And why did he leave it all behind?

Rose was well known in town, participating in civic life. He was a captain in the Scottsdale Liberty Loan fundraiser during World War I. He later served in the war, training at Kelly Field in San Antonio, TX with 140 other Valley men. In 1917 Rose married Paulita S. Valenzuela, daughter of a highly respected Mexican family. The 32-year-old Rose and his 16-year old bride lived behind the hall. Rose leased his pool hall as a classroom for Mexican children during the day until they had their own school in 1922.

Business was rolling, but Rose's desire to provide every possible service included illegal activity. Scottsdale was full of teetotalers, and voted to outlaw alcohol a decade before the U.S. enacted prohibition. The territorial government had already outlawed gambling in the state. Proprietors had to be creative if they wanted to keep their entertainment halls, operating legitimate businesses as a front. This was difficult to do in Scottsdale, where community members were especially concerned with not corrupting youth and protested unsuitable entertainment. In 1916 Rose plead guilty to operating a pool hall that was a menace to the community and was fined $25. The next year he was arrested for gambling and fined $100.

One evening in 1916, a local ranch hand named John Kennedy (no, not that one) brought an illicit substance to town with the intention of hosting a jamboree in the pool hall. He then "proceeded to uncork enough booze to render the village blacksmith invisible, the pool hall proprietor indisposed," and knocked the rest of Scottsdale off their feet. A concerned citizen alerted Sheriff Jeff Adams when "never before had there been so many headaches on a bright summer morning," and for the first weekday ever the blacksmith shop wasn't ringing with noise. Kennedy plead guilty and was fined $109. During his testimony he revealed he was part of a group bringing alcohol into Scottsdale for personal use. The Arizona Republican doesn't name anyone besides Kennedy - could that pool hall proprietor be one Johnny Rose?

Rose left Scottsdale in 1929, selling the store to the Song family of Gilbert. They continued to operate the grocery story, but dropped the recreational activities. So who was Johnny Rose? From bacchanalian party host to soldier to businessman, the man did it all.


Who Was Johnny Rose? Charlie Sargent narrates the story of Johnny Rose who built a pool hall and store early in the 20th century, before leaving town abruptly in 1929. Source: Papago Salado Association/Story Tour. Creator: Megan Keough; recorded at Scottsdale Channel 11. Date: 2012


Johnny Rose's Place
Johnny Rose's Place Before Scottsdale's bustling nightlife industry, Johnny Rose's pool hall was the spot for entertainment, featuring vaudeville acts and dancing. It was very popular among Scottsdale's Mexican residents. Source: Scottsdale Public Library, Scottsdale Historical Society Image Collection, SCOT-SHS-2013-0318. Date: ca. 1920
Looking South on Brown Avenue
Looking South on Brown Avenue The heart of downtown was much sparser a century ago. Johnny Rose's pool hall is on the left, with Sterling Drug Store across the street. In a few decades, these streets would be filled with retailers. Source: Scottsdale Public Library, Scottsdale Historical Society Image Collection, SCOT-SHS-2012-0262. Date: ca. 1920
Hefron's Billiard Hall and Scottsdale Cafe
Hefron's Billiard Hall and Scottsdale Cafe Despite Scottsdale's teetotaler culture and pool halls' immoral reputation, the town was home to a handful of these recreational facilities. Places like Hefron's and Johnny Rose's offered much more than billiards, providing multiple services townspeople required. Source: Scottsdale Public Library, Scottsdale Historical Society Image Collection, SCOT-HIS-2009-0379.
Billiard players in Scottsdale
Billiard players in Scottsdale Billiards have been played in some form since the fourteenth century, where it was popular among French nobility. The sport saw a resurgence in the late nineteenth century in the United States. By the 1950s pool halls earned a negative connotation, known for gambling and alcohol. Source: Scottsdale Public Library, SCOT-HIS-2012-2636. Date: n.d.
The Song Family Takes Over
The Song Family Takes Over Johnny Rose sold the building to Jew She Song in 1929. The Song Family initially opened a grocery on the site. More businesses filled the area, including an antiques store called the Pack Rat and a service station for the growing number of cars. Source: Scottsdale Historical Society, Scottsdale Historical Society Digital Collection, SCOT-SHS-2012-0304. Date: 1948



Michelle Bickert and Stephanie McBride Schreiner, “Johnny Rose's Store,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 23, 2024,