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Gateway to the Mountains

George Wireman

Chapter 28:  Cozy Restaurant

Cozy Restaurant, located south of the community on Route 806, is the oldest restaurant in Thurmont and takes great pride in featuring the best in home-cooked food. Conveniently located near many points of local interest, Cozy offers the finest facilities available for banquets, parties, receptions and even bus groups.

Its main dining room, tastefully constructed in rustic outdoor style, comfortably seats 250 people. An interesting display of animal life adorns the walls including a bear-skin rug. The bear was shot by the late President Herbert R. Hoover while on a hunting trip to Alaska and was a gift to the proprietor, the late Wilbur R. Freeze.

Mr. Freeze, a native of Thurmont, spent several years in Detroit, Michigan, where he operated a confectionary store. This was during the Roaring Twenties when post-war travel was booming. In 1929 Mr. Freeze returned to Thurmont and soon discovered that there were no places in the area for the traveling motorist to stay and so he decided to do something about it.

In the fall of 1929 he constructed three cabins which he gave the picturesque name of "Cozy" and to attract the passing traveler he also opened a service station. Four years later in 1933, Mr. Freeze built a 12-stool luncheon bar which was no longer than the average living room of today. A year later in 1934, the "Cozy Room" and the adjacent sun porch was added to handle the increased business. The main dining room was built in 1935 and enlarged to its present size in 1939.

In the early Thirties "Cozy" was the scene of several balloon ascensions and one of its biggest attractions featured a man who was buried alive for several days. These outdoor attractions were enjoyed by children and adults alike. "Cozy" was indeed a very popular meeting place and the food served to its patrons was the main

reason for its growing popularity. A fish pond, with its hundreds of inhabitants, composed one of the largest concrete aquariums in the country. A unique doghouse, built by John Stiles, makes even the most adventurous youngsters' eyes bulge with amazement.

Several million people have dined at Cozy Restaurant since it first opened in 1929. Among these have been some of the most eminent figures of our time. With the establishment of the Presidential mountain retreat in the Catoctin Mountains early in 1942, Cozy was, for a period of time, headquarters for the many reporters and photographers who followed the President as far as Thurmont.

Prominent guests at Cozy Restaurant include the following: The Honorable Sir Winston Churchill, Henry Cabot Lodge, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Babe Ruth, Theodore R. McKeldin, Baily Goss, Gus Treandos, Lou Gehrig, Branch Rickey, Larry Richey, James Mitchell, William R. Rogers, Joe Brooks, Jim Gentile, Steve Barber, Charles Mc. Mathias, Billy Hunter, J. Millard Tawes, Ordell Bracy, Roger Starrback, Charlie Keller, Bob Baldwin, Robert Hager, Skip Orr, Lee Taylor of Station WLOW-TV Miami, Florida, Nola Jane Birely who was "Miss United States 1966," and many well-known radio and television personalities. Miss Birely's father, William Birely, a native of Thurmont, is a director of the Thurmont Bank. Her grandfather, Victor Birely, also a native of Thurmont, is a leading authority on the life of Abraham Lincoln and in 1958 was appointed by President Eisenhower as a member of the Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission 1958-1961.

Cozy Restaurant serves as a meeting place for the Thurmont Lions Club and the Thurmont Jaycees and because of its close association with these two active organizations, it has entertained many out-standing sports figures.

In 1961 Mr. Wilbur R. Freeze, founder of "Cozy" Restaurant, suffered a stroke and died. His widow, with the help of their son Gerald, has faithfully followed the traditions which he instituted. Gerald, who majored in Business Administration and with his practical experience, has served well in the family enterprise.

In 1967 a rustic waterwheel and covered bridge were added to the outside grounds. A new and very attractive sign was erected and improvements to the driveway were also made.

Gerald's future plans for Cozy Restaurant are his main concern. These include many outstanding features, which, if they materialize, will be a great asset to the business and the community as well. However, the Freeze's major objective is to constantly improve their food and service.

Through the years Cozy Restaurant has retained its homey relaxed atmosphere, quite untouched by any desire for splurge or grandeur. It is without question, one of the finest and most popular eating places in the state, featuring only the finest in home-cooked food. Cozy employs thirty-five regular and part-time employees and on a busy day 800 full-course dinners are served to its patrons who have ten main courses to choose from. Cozy Restaurant is unmatched for cleanliness, and widely known for its charm and friendly atmosphere which has enchanted the public since 1929. These are the necessary requisites for a successful business and Cozy has them all.

Chapter Index | Chapter 29: Camp Airy

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