Longtime soul food favorite Cozzy Corner in downtown Appleton won’t change very much even though it’s in new hands, said founder Tasha Banks and new owner Phillip Bennett.
“He doesn’t want to change anything, he just wants to add a few things. But no take-aways,” said Banks, who will continue to operate Jerk Joint, serving Caribbean food on the north side of town, as well as her own catering business.
Bennett said he plans to bring a bit of his Mississippi heritage to the Cozzy.
“Tasha is Florida south. Mississippi south cooking is a little different,” he said. “I just kind of want to add a little bit of Mississippi south recipes. Something like smothered pork chops, rice and gravy, smothered potatoes, smothered chicken, stuff like that.”
For almost eight years, Cozzy Corner has been a favorite lunch spot for locals as well as touring performers visiting the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center just across the street and members of the Green Bay Packers and their visiting opponents. They restaurant has also provided catering for businesses and organizations throughout the region.
Banks said she chose to scale back to focus on family.
“We had some health situations with my husband and it just kind of made us take a step back and want to readjust our priorities and we decided we just wanted to spend more time with the family and working on health,” she said.
Bennett worked at Neenah Foundry for nearly 10 years, including four as a supervisor, but has been an entrepreneur as well. He and wife Heidi own several rental properties around the Fox Cities, and he opened Envy Fits and Fashion at Fox River Mall in October 2017. He was finally able to leave his full-time job to run his businesses full-time last spring.
He’s also not entirely new to the restaurant business; his mother and grandmother had a restaurant in Mississippi when he was young, and he and his brother did some catering when he was a young adult.
“I’ve always been cooking,” he said. “We kind of did catering on a small level, me and my brother, always barbecued. We’ve been doing stuff like that all pretty much since I was 18. We always had little catering gigs, learning how to cook like that.”
Bennett said the sale didn’t come out of the blue — getting back into the restaurant business is something he’s often considered.
“I’ve known Tasha and them from maybe a year or two before they even actually opened Cozzy,” he said. “So we were always in talks of doing business together. But I guess my idea wasn’t a restaurant in the beginning. I wanted to do other stuff. Like, we actually wanted to grow our rental businesses. We wanted to grow those and try our hand at just doing our own thing before we decided on a restaurant. But then the time came about, where they just approached us again. Phillip: So my wife kind of was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do. Let’s buy Cozzy.’”
Cozzy Corner, at 111 N. Walnut Street in Appleton, is open 11:30 am to 9 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11:30 am to 8 pm on Sundays, and closed on Mondays.