The courtyard at the Cozy Restaurant is shown on its last day of business, June 8, 2014.
by James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont has lost one of its iconic businesses. The Cozy Restaurant was the oldest restaurant in Maryland, continuously owned by one family. That’s right….was. When the restaurant closed its doors on Sunday, June 8, 2014, it closed for good.
The closing means that around seventy-five employees, mostly part-time, will need to find new work. Parties and events that had been scheduled at the Cozy will need to find new venues.
“The motel will stay open, and we may rent or sell the restaurant,” owner Jerry Freeze told the Frederick News Post. “I’m almost eighty, and there really isn’t anyone left in the family to run the business. I never thought I would want to retire.”
The Cozy Inn and Restaurant began in 1929, when Wilbur Freeze purchased property on Frederick Road to build a tourist camp that consisted of three cottages, tents, shower building, rest room, and a gas station.
The restaurant had long been associated with Camp David since the Herbert Hoover administration. The Inn served as the original housing for Secret Service agents during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. The restaurant even had a Camp David Museum, which showed photos and memorabilia of Camp David, the Cozy, and the presidents who had visited over the years.
The restaurant portion of the Cozy Inn began in 1933. A small bar and luncheonette that could accommodate twenty people was built next to the gas station. It was built because Prohibition had ended and alcohol could be sold again.
In recent years, the Cozy’s buffet featuring meats, vegetables, salads, soups, and desserts has been a popular feature at the restaurant. It was a popular stop for tour buses passing through the region. According to the Cozy website, more than twenty million people have dined at the Cozy since it opened.
The closure of the restaurant does not affect the operation of the Cozy Inn and its twenty-one President-themed rooms and cabins.
The Cozy Restaurant was a member of the Maryland Restaurant Association Hall of Fame and the National Restaurant Association Hall of Fame.
On June 20 and 21, 2014, Cozy hosted a sale of the restaurant’s equipment and furnishings. Greeters would accept price inquiries about items and, “Check with Jerry [Freeze, the owner]” to see how much he wanted for each item. If he was undecided, you were invited to fill out a bid sheet and, “put it in the box. He’ll call you if he accepts the bid.” It was a strange going-out-of-business sale that emphasized the restaurant’s awkward closing after its 85-year run.