A hole in the heart of Lakewood is about to be filled with the arrival of Kozy Lakewood, a transplanted restaurant opening on January 1 in the dearly beloved ex-Dixie House space at 6400 Gaston Ave.
Kozy prospered at 4433 McKinney Ave. for 15 years, where it became known for its healthy focus and quirky style. It was a gluten-free pioneer, introducing gluten-free dishes long before GF became a thing, including a wide range of gluten-free cakes. Its breakfasts are especially bodacious, with fulsome scrambles and a trademark challah-stuffed French toast.
Their move to Lakewood came about by a fortunate set of circumstances, says chef Nicholas Pavageaux.
"Our location on McKinney Avenue was sold — we thought we were going to close," he says. "But the landlord at our new location called and said, 'What do you guys have planned?' and invited us to come see the space. That's how it came about."
The space was most recently occupied by Sugarbacon, a restaurant from McKinney that didn't even last in the space for a year (and whose parting gift was to basically strip the interior of anything that didn't move, right down to the sinks on the walls and the handles on the bathroom doors. #classy).
Pavageaux calls this "Kozy 3.0."
"This is a monster, this is going to be the flagship," he says. "At McKinney, we had 3,000 square feet and we seated 108 people. This is 6,000 square feet, and it seats 224 inside and another 65 on the patio. We'll have a full bar with custom drinks. We'll show games on TV. We have a bar menu and a new kids menu."
But despite the expansion, they'll maintain their same philosophies and approach. "We'll adhere to the same principles of how we do things — food made with love, organic and local," he says.
They'll have the same basic menu with a few additions, including soups which they'll feature more regularly. And now that they have wine, he's excited about the prospect of doing food and wine pairings.
Lakewood is a notoriously tough crowd to please, but Pavageaux says they'll observe the same model that served them well on McKinney.
"Luckily for us, we're diverse," he says. "We're Austin meets New York, we can handle it all."
"And to a certain extent, I'm going to let our customers dictate our direction," he says. "We're not corporate, so we don't have rules we have to follow. I'll run some killer specials for the first three months, and see what the feedback is. If customers like a dish, we'll keep it. That's how Kozy has done it for years."