The bar stayed in the family, reopening as the Cozy in the 1970s when Johnson’s son, Joe Lee Johnson and his wife Melownie took over.
Both teachers, the couple left a legacy in a Downtown Round Rock bar that was a community fixture for more than 40 years.
Later, the bar came under ownership of Joe Lee’s son, Joe Douglas Johnson, who said the bar was named for its “cozy” clientele.
The property on which the Cozy Corner once sat was purchased from the Johnson family by the city of Round Rock in 2019. It will be the new $29.8 million Round Rock Public Library, which is set to be complete in 2023.
But before the property changed hands, its former owners said Cozy Corner was a fixture of the Round Rock area.
“It was more of a family-type atmosphere because everybody kind of knew everybody,” Joe Douglas Johnson said. “Everybody was from around this area, and it was one of the few places that you could go to that was all Black.”
Camilia Johnson, Joe’s daughter, said she worked at the Cozy Corner prior to its closing in 2015.
“It’s really historic just to know that, during that time, that Black people were able to own something and have a place where they actually were able to go and just have a good time,” Camilia Johnson said.
When the Cozy Corner closed permanently, the Johnson family retained ownership of the property and the bar itself. Camilia Johnson said she and her father leased the bar to a mother and daughter who renamed it Slim’s Last Call, which has since relocated to 1100 Gattis School Road in Round Rock.
Corey Johnson, Joe’s nephew, said he worked at the Cozy Corner for 10-12 years. In that time, he witnessed a number of events that showed the establishment was just as much a community center as it was a bar. People got engaged, celebrated events, participated in Jazzercize classes and enjoyed life in Round Rock at what he said was the oldest Black-owned bar in the city.
Another member of the family, Tina Steiner, said she operated the Cozy Corner while she attended Texas State University from 2011-12.
“Everyone looked forward to Wednesday night so we could get together and just hang out and have a good time,” Steiner said.