Round Rock’s Cozy Corner was more than just a bar for the community it served

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The Cozy Corner, the bar at 200 E. Liberty St., was first known as Bertie’s, run by Bertram Johnson.

The bar remained in the family and reopened as Cozy in the 1970s when Johnson’s son Joe Lee Johnson and wife Melownie took over.

Both teachers, the couple left a legacy at a downtown Round Rock bar that was a community fixture for over 40 years.

The bar later became the property of Joe Lee’s son Joe Douglas Johnson, who said the bar was named for its “comfortable” clientele.

The property the Cozy Corner once stood on was purchased from the Johnson family by the Town of Round Rock in 2019. It will be the new $ 29.8 million Round Rock Public Library, expected to be completed in 2023.

But before the property changed hands, its previous owners declared Cozy Corner to be a staple in the Round Rock area.

“It was more of a family-like atmosphere because everyone kinda knew each other,” said Joe Douglas Johnson. “Everyone was from that area, and it was one of the few places you could go that was all black.”

Camilia Johnson, Joe’s daughter, said she worked at the Cozy Corner before it closed in 2015.

“It’s really historic to know that during that time black people were able to own something and have a place to go and have a good time,” said Camilia Johnson.

When the Cozy Corner closed for good, the Johnson family retained ownership of the property and the bar itself. Camilia Johnson said she and her father rented the bar from a mother and daughter who renamed it Slim’s Last Call, who has since moved to 1100 Gattis School Road in Round Rock.

Joe’s nephew Corey Johnson said he worked at the Cozy Corner for 10 to 12 years. Around this time, he witnessed a number of events that showed the establishment to be as much a community center as it was a bar. People got engaged, celebrated events, took Jazzercize classes, and enjoyed life in Round Rock at what he said was the oldest black-owned bar in town.

Another family member, Tina Steiner, said she operated the Cozy Corner while attending Texas State University from 2011-2012.

“Everyone was looking forward to Wednesday night so we could get together, have a good time and have a good time,” Steiner said.


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