The Cozzy Corner has made its mark in Appleton. For seven years now the Cozzy Corner has been giving the Appleton area food people in that community wouldn’t normally see around the Fox Cities.
Chicken and waffles, collared greens, catfish, frog legs. And the Big Jess – a sandwich combining smoked sausage topped with pulled pork, coleslaw and BBQ sauce. It is sheer southern comfort food with plenty of flair.
The menu keeps customers coming back and has given the Cozzy Corner a strong enough reputation that its owner, Natasha Banks, is considering ways to grow the business.
“Things have been great. We do pretty well,” Banks told FoxValley365. “I mean we’re going on our seventh year. We’ve been good. People love us. I honestly couldn’t have chosen a better place from day one. In terms of the community and the city, they’ve been receptive.”
Banks laughed when asked how a southern soul food restaurant with African-American owners could do well in the Fox Cities. She pointed back to the food itself.
When Banks moved her family up to the Fox Cities from down south she pictured herself running a beauty salon and having her own daycare center. And, for a while, that’s what she did. But as the patrons in both of her places grew hungry, Banks found herself in the kitchen preparing meals using down-home recipes straight from the south.
“Obviously, I’m from the south and I used to own a beauty supply store here and I also owned a daycare too, and I always loved cooking,” said Banks, who was named one of the most influential Black leaders in Wisconsin last year. “I cooked for my customers and daycare parents and they all liked my food. While I was in beauty supply I had people wanting food like that. Wanting to go to restaurants and have soul food. So I was like ‘hey, what about opening a restaurant’. In July of this summer, this will be our seventh year.”
Banks says that the Appleton area was thrilled to have a soul food restaurant in town and that she has never had any shortage of patrons. But as she looks to expand the brand in the near future, she has been faced with the daunting prospect of not having enough workers.
With the economy on an upswing, jobs have suddenly become plentiful. At first some might have worried that a southern soul food place wouldn’t draw interest in the Fox Cities. But, it turns out, the bigger challenge might be finding enough employees to handle the major amount of interest in Cozzy Corner.
“I want to grow the business,” Banks said. “I’m just waiting for the job market to turn around. It’s been a challenge. We have been lucky to keep our core people, but it’s been a challenge to grow and retain staff. It’s just life in the Fox Valley, period. There’s a number of businesses closed because of lack of employees. There’s just so many jobs. Everywhere is hiring and looking for employees.”
But that has not stopped Banks from doing what she wants to do with her business. With the Cozzy Corner doing well as a restaurant, Banks has begun catering, including providing food for the Appleton School District’s first MLK Day of Service. She has a soul food menu and does college dinners, business events and private parties.
The Cozzy Corner is located at 111 N. Walnut street and is open for lunch and dinner.