Tulsa's Only English Pub, Run By 91-Year-Old, Celebrates 25 Years In Business

Betty Southard said it was her son's idea to open White Lion Pub in 1999, and she keeps going even at 91 because of the people who keep coming.

Wednesday, February 21st 2024, 5:36 pm



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Tulsa's only English Pub, that's run by a 91-year-old owner, is celebrating 25 years of business.

The Liverpool native said she is proud her business has survived so many years, including the pandemic.

Betty Southard said it was her son's idea to open White Lion Pub in 1999, and she keeps going even at 91 because of the people who keep coming.

Tucked away near 71st and Yale, White Lion Pub is home to royalty.

"I'm the queen of Liverpool,” Southard said while laughing.

She is known to many of her customers as “Queen Elizabeth" or "Mummie” and lives above the English pub and restaurant.

"I come down every night and get to see them and have a glass of wine with them,” said Betty.” Give them a hug. 'The queen has arrived.'"

Betty moved to Tulsa at 24 years old after marrying her late husband, Air Force Maj. Kenneth Southard, a Tulsa native.

Betty framed and hung up a pair of gloves that sparked their relationship.

"I was working for American Express, and I met him at the air base,” said Betty. “He left grey, suede gloves on the counter and came back to pick them up and invited me to go out."

Betty still runs the business every day.

"I think I have a purpose in life,” said Betty. “It makes me get up and do stuff. I'm better if I'm organized."

The pub is adorned with all kinds of mementos and even letters from Buckingham Palace.

White Lion also has a beer named after it, thanks to a collaboration with Cabin Boys Brewery.

Betty said she is proud the business continues to thrive.

She celebrated its 25th anniversary on Feb. 18 with many customers-turned-close friends and even had the number 25 painted on her nails.

"Betty's just such a beautiful and gracious host,” said Jaycee Cravello, a longtime customer from Tulsa. “It's very relaxing. The food is great, and it's home. It's very homey for us."

Cozy and authentic is how Betty wants White Lion to stay.

"My dream is it's got to carry on,” said Betty. “I'm not sure what or how."

People often bring Betty mementos to put on her walls. She said her most recent gift is a poem a customer wrote to honor the business' 25th anniversary.

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