Get Cozy with Entrepreneur Jan Collins
The spunky entrepreneur that created Putters Sports Grill and Cozy’s Cottage was once a nurse. Fortunately for us, it was her side job that really got her blood pumping.
“I started working at a restaurant at nights to lighten things up and I loved it!” she explains. “Once it’s in your blood, it’s always in your blood. I’ve been doing it now for 40 years.”
All of Collins’ experience, knowledge and hard work paid off in the creation of two of Liberty Township’s favorite eateries.
Cozy’s Cottage is the kind of fairytale place you might stumble upon in the woods, and see a grown-up Little Red Riding Hood and her friends Hansel and Gretel unwinding with a glass of wine. With fresh flowers on every table, comfy cushions in every corner and a storybook outdoor porch, diners feel as if they’ve stepped away from it all when they step inside the well-named Hot Spot. It’s cozy.
Cozy’s Cottage was not inspired by fairytales, but by a vacation across the pond.
“In my travels, I was in London, in this little restaurant. I just loved this place. It had a beautiful outdoor area with rabbits running through the yard. It had many outdoor seating sections, in and around an old historical house. I wondered, ‘Why don’t we have anything like this in Cincinnati? I think I am going to do this…’”
It was the beginning of something big, but small.
“People say that when they are at my cottage, they feel like they are on vacation,” Collins says. “It doesn’t seem like they are in Liberty Township. It’s like you are at someone else’s backyard, but with great garden-to-the-table food.”
The great food at Cozy’s Cottage comes from Chef Gary Henz, a long-time friend of Collins’. When she invited Henz to consider partnering with her on a new concept, he was immediately in.
Collins and Henz are a good team; she does the public relations, decorating and organization, and he loves to cook and create.
Henz’ kitchen offers a feature every day for lunch and dinner, with soups made from scratch each morning. The food is fresh and tasty.
“Because it is fresh, almost everything on the menu can be made gluten-free,” Collins adds.
From the menu, Collins recommends the Cottage Burger—fresh, local beef, hand-pattied daily by Henz and his crew, topped with Cozy’s homemade jelly ($12).
“We make our own jellies,” Collins explains. “The Cottage Burger is sweet and savory.”
Another favorite entrée is the House Crab Cakes, served with housemade Dijon aioli and a choice of two sides ($28).
“They are also hand-pattied,” Collins says. “Nothing is frozen. In fact, I bought a huge freezer for the kitchen and we don’t use it!” she laughs. “Gary turns it up to be a refrigerator instead.”
Save room for Cozy’s Cottage’s signature dessert, Carrot Cake ($9). At four layers tall, it is a hunk of delight, topped with cream cheese frosting and a housemade caramel sauce.
Behind every successful entrepreneur is a valuable team. Collins’ home team includes her General Manager Nicole Burr, Sous-Chef Justin Bedwell and son, Travis Breese.
“My son oversees all my restaurants. He is the foodie in my life,” says Collins.
Collins is proud of her team.
“It is so nice to be in this atmosphere,” she shares. “I’ve got a good support staff. I have great servers—a great team that supports each other. It’s just fantastic! You are only as good as the people that work for you.”
Collins, who is called the “ever-ready bunny” by her friends, has been busy preparing to open Cozy Café and Pub in the historical house next door to the Cottage. When it opens sometime this summer, the 1832 home will be the dinner restaurant, open every night of the week. Cozy’s Cottage will then become a breakfast and lunch spot, available for cooking classes, wine tastings and special events and parties after 4 p.m. every day.
“Cozy Café and Pub will have an exquisite backyard, with lots of little dining areas,” she describes her newest venture. “We are adding an industrial edge to mix it up a little bit. It’s shabby chic, not pretentious at all, but a one-of-a-kind place.”
No doubt it will be another one-of-a-kind place from a one-of-a-kind entrepreneur.
“I don’t feel any different than when I first started in this business. I feel grateful to all of my friends and loyal customers. I feel very blessed.”