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Jack's Place

The first time I came by Cozine’s Grocery (402 Civic Center Drive, 619-477-8488), I was taking a picture so I’d recognize it. I wanted to come back and try the fried chicken someone had told me about.

So I’m clicking away when a car cruises up. Guy watches me.

“What’re you doing?”

“Jes’ taking a picture.”

“Because if you’re going to change anything, don’t. If you want to buy Cozine’s out or try to tear them down, don’t. We won’t allow it.”

I end up talking with the guy. He says everybody watches out for Cozine’s. “They’ve always been there for us, the community. Cash checks, groceries, pay bills, whatever, Jack does it. Nobody better mess with Jack. We love him.”

“Actually,” I say, “I just want to try his chicken.”

Image

So tonight – and this is a Friday – I’m back at this corner grocery. Old building, but smartly painted blue and white.

Image

“Since 1978,” it says on the sign. “Try our fresh BBQ and fried chicken.”

It’s an old line neighborhood grocery. The kind where you see “Checks cashed. Western Union. Money Orders.” You know this ain’t no chain.

And as soon as you’re inside, there’s Jack, the owner, with his son Joseph right there at the counter, with a line.

Image

Jack, Joseph

The good news? They still have plenty of tortas and sandwiches. The bad news? They’re out of chicken, BBQ, fried, spicy, whatever.

“We’ve been through 70lbs already,” says Jack. “We don’t cook unless we sell it all. It’s fried fresh every hour till we run out. Sorry.”

“You missed something,” says George.

Image

George Gaytan, from Elidia's Bakery

He’s bringing fresh bread supplies. Elidia’s Bakery in City Heights.

“But I can do you a sandwich,” says Jack.

And he does.

Makes me up a “Cozine’s Market Special” ($4.99)...

Image

...with ham, pastrami, cheese, plus I get some turkey, lettuce, jalapeños as well. And extra cheese. In big thick wads of rye bread. Toasted. Comes to $5.99.

Image

“We are Chaldean,” says Jack. “We came from Nazaria, near the ancient city of Ur, where Abraham came from. We bought this in 1978, but Ed Cozine had started it in 1930. Same building..."

Image

Founder Ed Cozine and family in front of his store, 1930

"...For the first eight years after we bought it, we had no day off. In the 34 years since 1978, I have had only one week off, in Hawaii, 1987. But my kids, Joseph and his brothers and sister, are all professionals. Joseph has a degree in criminal justice. But he still helps out."

I ask Jack why he doesn’t put tables and chairs outside on the sidewalk, so people like me can sit down and eat.

“It needs permissions, but they’re talking of re-zoning,” says Jack. “Maybe soon, lots of restaurants in this area.”

All the time, customers are coming in and leaving. “Hi Jack.” “Bye, Mr. Jack.” “Hey Jack!”

Me, I’m heading out and snapping a couple of pics of the signs just as a couple of kids zip up on their bikes. “Why are you taking pictures? Don’t change anything. We love this place.”

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The first time I came by Cozine’s Grocery (402 Civic Center Drive, 619-477-8488), I was taking a picture so I’d recognize it. I wanted to come back and try the fried chicken someone had told me about.

So I’m clicking away when a car cruises up. Guy watches me.

“What’re you doing?”

“Jes’ taking a picture.”

“Because if you’re going to change anything, don’t. If you want to buy Cozine’s out or try to tear them down, don’t. We won’t allow it.”

I end up talking with the guy. He says everybody watches out for Cozine’s. “They’ve always been there for us, the community. Cash checks, groceries, pay bills, whatever, Jack does it. Nobody better mess with Jack. We love him.”

“Actually,” I say, “I just want to try his chicken.”

Image

So tonight – and this is a Friday – I’m back at this corner grocery. Old building, but smartly painted blue and white.

Image

“Since 1978,” it says on the sign. “Try our fresh BBQ and fried chicken.”

It’s an old line neighborhood grocery. The kind where you see “Checks cashed. Western Union. Money Orders.” You know this ain’t no chain.

And as soon as you’re inside, there’s Jack, the owner, with his son Joseph right there at the counter, with a line.

Image

Jack, Joseph

The good news? They still have plenty of tortas and sandwiches. The bad news? They’re out of chicken, BBQ, fried, spicy, whatever.

“We’ve been through 70lbs already,” says Jack. “We don’t cook unless we sell it all. It’s fried fresh every hour till we run out. Sorry.”

“You missed something,” says George.

Image

George Gaytan, from Elidia's Bakery

He’s bringing fresh bread supplies. Elidia’s Bakery in City Heights.

“But I can do you a sandwich,” says Jack.

And he does.

Makes me up a “Cozine’s Market Special” ($4.99)...

Image

...with ham, pastrami, cheese, plus I get some turkey, lettuce, jalapeños as well. And extra cheese. In big thick wads of rye bread. Toasted. Comes to $5.99.

Image

“We are Chaldean,” says Jack. “We came from Nazaria, near the ancient city of Ur, where Abraham came from. We bought this in 1978, but Ed Cozine had started it in 1930. Same building..."

Image

Founder Ed Cozine and family in front of his store, 1930

"...For the first eight years after we bought it, we had no day off. In the 34 years since 1978, I have had only one week off, in Hawaii, 1987. But my kids, Joseph and his brothers and sister, are all professionals. Joseph has a degree in criminal justice. But he still helps out."

I ask Jack why he doesn’t put tables and chairs outside on the sidewalk, so people like me can sit down and eat.

“It needs permissions, but they’re talking of re-zoning,” says Jack. “Maybe soon, lots of restaurants in this area.”

All the time, customers are coming in and leaving. “Hi Jack.” “Bye, Mr. Jack.” “Hey Jack!”

Me, I’m heading out and snapping a couple of pics of the signs just as a couple of kids zip up on their bikes. “Why are you taking pictures? Don’t change anything. We love this place.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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