| 'Rod,' or
Rodney Graves, was born in Spruce Head, Maine in 1904. When Rod was eleven, he moved to California with his family.
Later on he attended Stanford University. During the hardships of the twenties, he was forced to leave college. Since
he was a lover of the great outdoors, it was natural for him to become a surveyor for the U.S. Coastal and Geodetic
survey. His and his crew's names are inscribed on the altitude mark atop Mt. Lassen, from there they surveyed the
California-Arizona-Mexico borders. After deciding to stay in Arizona, he bought and operated a small café in Seligman,
a small community 48 miles west of Williams. This is where he met his future bride, Helen. After a short time, he
sold this operation and set off for Phoenix and Helen, where she was a teacher. Helen and Rod were married in 1938.
They both loved Northern Arizona, especially Williams and Prescott. After much deliberation, they decided Williams
would be the site of their new home. Rod bought the Grand Canyon Tavern, which he operated for nearly seven years.
During this business venture, Rod had determined a restaurant, perhaps a steak house was needed in town. He sold the
tavern, and obtained the property to build and fulfill his dream.
On August 23,
1946, Rod, along with Helen, opened Rod's Steak House, which is located on Historic Route 66. The registered trademark
menu, die cut in the shape of a steer, that the restaurant uses today, is the same one Rod used to open the Steak House
with back then. (With a few minor changes). In 1955, Rod purchased a ranch where he would become a great cattleman
and raise Hereford Cattle. It was then that Rod christened the MJ Bar brand, in honor of a close friend. The brand
can be seen in various locations in and around the restaurant and on every menu! Mr. Graves was instrumental in the
formation of the original Bill Williams mountain men and was also their first president. This famous organization
still exists today. Rod also organized the first rodeo in Williams in 1941. Rod operated his Steak House for the
next 21 years. In August of 1967, Rod bowed out of the restaurant business.
Steak House has had two owners, since Rod Graves. Third and current owners are Lawrence and Stella Sanchez. Mr.
Sanchez, born almost exactly one year prior to the original opening of the restaurant, is a lifelong resident of Williams.
During his teen years, Mr. Sanchez was employed by Rod Graves as a dishwasher and busboy. In 1969, Lawrence and Stella
were married, and in January 1973, Lawrence went back to work at Rod's Steak House, this time as a manager. Mr. Sanchez
worked as manager and head chef for the next 13 years. In August 1985, Lawrence and Stella bought Rod's Steak House.
Having such a long term association with the restaurant and even Rod Graves himself, Mr. Sanchez continues that
'Fine Rod's Tradition.' Today, Lawrence and Stella operate the restaurant, and can be found here most any day or night
of the year.
Come see us soon!!!
(Story told by his wife Helen and their son
Rodney Jackson Graves) 3-29-93