When Zef Gjini purchased Cozy Corner for $2 million back in 2018, he knew he wanted to memorialize the 118-year-old Ridgewood institution.
“It’s historical and in the middle of Ridgewood,” Gjini said about the three-story building located on 60-01 70th Ave. “Also, I fell in love with these two ladies.”
Gjini is referring to the two wooden, Greek-styled statues of women acting as pillars behind the bar. In order to preserve the original elements of the main bar, the chandeliers and the space as a whole, he made it a point to only make “minor renovations.”
That’s what he says he did with the rest of the space, mainly constructed of Kreischer bricks from Staten Island, which give it that distinct golden-metallic patina.
But if you look around and pay close attention to the design, you’ll see Gjini did much more than that.
Gjini, a general contractor by trade who’s worked on more than 26 bars and restaurants in New York City, made almost everything that appears in the Cozy Corner with his own two hands. The light-brown cupboard with mirrors on the bottom half behind the main bar, the long mirrors hanging over the bar made out of 150-year-old wooden doors, the wooden block and stumps in front of the restaurant that’ll undoubtedly become a favorite spot for guests once the weather gets warmer.
He even added a second bar toward the back of the restaurant, made entirely of reclaimed wood from Dominos Sugar Factory, the former Williamsburg refinery that dates back to the 1800s.
They kept operating the bar when they purchased it back in 2018, but opened the additional space in the back and kitchen in phases. Now, they hope to attract private events by offering more than 2,000 square feet of open space.
If the Cozy Corner’s laid-back ambiance — their playlist is a mix of classic rock ‘n’ roll and country music — isn’t enough to entice you into becoming a regular, their menu just might.
They offer a wide variety of liquors, beers ($7 tap or $4 a can) and $12 cocktails. Their “Cozy Cocktail,” made with whiskey, apple cider, seltzer and served with fresh orange peel and a cinnamon stick as a garnish, is particularly tasty.
They also have your traditional bar food, from mozzarella sticks to chicken wings to burgers.
“We have free pizza, too,” Gjini said.
It’s true — they offer a deliciously free, 10-inch pizza with your choice of toppings when you order a menu item of $6 or more. They offer this special everyday from the moment they open at 4 p.m. until they close, which is at 4 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday and 2 a.m. from Sunday to Wednesday.
On the weekends during brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., their omelettes are also on the house.
But perhaps the most charming aspect of the Cozy Corner is its celebration of Ridgewood’s history, one of the largest National Historic Districts in the Country.
Black and white photos of Ridgewood and its residents from the 1800s and the 1950s are sprinkled along the brick and copper sided walls. Gjini found all the the vintage images in the Queens Library, and placed them inside wooden frames (which he made, of course).
In fact, the first image you see when you walk into the bar on your left is a black-and-white image of the Arbitration Rock, a boulder that marked the border of Ridgewood and Bushwick in the 1700s and is now displayed at the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society.
“It’s beautiful to have a story behind the bar,” the establishment’s bartender said. “On the front here, there’s a sign that says, ‘Hospitality is natural here.’ And that’s kind of a cool thing to be able to walk in somewhere and feel cozy and feel at home, and then learn a little bit more about your neighborhood.”
The Cozy Corner’s century-long history also gives them a lot to talk about with guests. One of the earliest incarnations of the 4,800-square-foot building was A. Moeschle’s Cafe, where the owners used to serve Bushwick-based Rheingold beer dating back to 1912.
For Gjini, who’s lived in Ridgewood for about 15 years with his family but is originally from Albania, there’s no better neighborhood to live in and establish a business.
“I love this neighborhood,” Gjini said. “I’ve seen all the changes and it’s all been good changes, all for the better.”
For more information and their full menu, visit their website at www.cozycornerbar.com.