Nestled next to a residential area on 75th Street just before Metcalf, “Cozy Café” is easy to miss when you’re hit with a nice view of Petco and O’Reilly Autoparts. Judging by the exterior of this brand new and remodeled diner, which opened in August 2009, I wasn’t expecting anything cutting-edge considering the building used to be a hardware store. The sign looked like it might have just been painted over the previous name in an unattractive font surrounded by yellow shapes that are either pinwheels or suns. At first, I was a little afraid to go inside because I couldn’t see in. The blinds were halfway shut behind streaky windows.
You know when you walk in the room and everyone simultaneously turns their head to look at you? That’s what happened when I walked into the spacious room of “Cozy’s.” But it wasn’t a rude stare; it was more of a “Oh, new person!” The owner, Albanian native Kozeta Kreka, named her restaurant after her nickname, “Cozy.” She greeted my friend and I and told us to sit anywhere we liked. Not only is she the owner, but also the sole waitress for the entire cafe, along with one person in the kitchen. When I overheard her speaking to the old man nearby, she addressed him by his first name. So, it is one of those diners where the same elderly folks come in at the same time and order the same thing, every single day.
The mismatched decorating suprisingly made the place fairly inviting. It had a combination of dark brick and pale green walls, decorated with modern black and white photography and scenic oil paintings. There were also exotic plants randomly garnished throughout the room, including a hefty arrangement of poinsettias with gold-glittery petals. Yes, there was glitter on the plant. The wooden chairs and table didn’t go well with the room, but were new and sturdy, which was nice because nothing bothers me more than a wobbly chair. I mean, right?! The mossy-green carpet didn’t help with the whole modern, artsy theme, but there was an obvious effort to make it look nice.
The daily specials were scribbled on a dry-erase board. The kitchen was completely wide open behind a tall, marble counter-top. I actually wished there were stools at the counter, so it could be like in the movies where people wander into a diner, plop down at the counter and ask for a coffee.
The menu consisted of the basics from breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The breakfast menu had a variety, mostly featuring types of omlettes and crepes. Lunch choices were hambugers and paninis, such as the grilled tuscan or grilled salmon. The muffuleta was one of the European sandwiches,which was salami and provolone on French baguette. Fettucini and spaghetti were also offered for dinner.
It was about 2 p.m. and I wanted breakfast, so I was pleased to learn that it was served all day. I ordered French toast and it was served after about five minutes, arranged carefully diagonally-sliced and topped with powdered sugar. I could tell that the bread was a tad stale by the way I had to saw it with my butter knife, but I am not a particularly picky eater and I thought it tasted fine. Well, that was obviously after I drowned it in syrup. I was kind of upset that it wasn’t served with fresh strawberries like the menu said, but I eventually got over it. My friend ordered a fudge brownie off the dessert menu.”It was really rich and chocolately, and not too dry. But it’s hard to mess up a brownie.”
Just when we were getting used to the awkward quietness, the juke box in the corner of the room started playing what we thought was Italian pizzeria music, but realized was some type of Spanish folk music. It really lightened the mood and helped distract from the fact that there were only five people dining.
Since the suburban parts of Kansas City are mostly filled with chain restaurants, the small, unique diner setting was unlike what I am used to, but not in a bad way. It seemed like a place you would stop off the highway in the middle of nowhere. At one point my friend remarked, “I feel like I’m not in Johnson Country anymore.”
After eating at “Cozy’s Café,” I got the feeling that the owner doesn’t really care if her outdoor sign is hideous or if her interior decorating isn’t quite appealing. It’s not a prosperous chain restaurant; it’s an original that she started on her own. She cares about serving her favorite American and European dishes to people in a friendly environment. The food didn’t start a progressive era of American cuisine, but it was decent for a casual, quick eat.