8 Wonders of Kansas cuisine

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Cuisine

Cozy Inn, Salina

Address: 108 N. 7th, Salina, KS 67401
Phone: 785.825.2699
Website: cozyburger.com

Open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
See menu, click here.

The Cozy Inn is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine because of its legendary sliders (buy 'em by the sack) and 6-stool counter dating back to 1922.

Menu - Cozy Burger 85 cents or 24 for $18.  Chips, soda.  That's it!

The Cozy Inn was opened at 108 N. 7th Street in Salina the spring of 1922, just months after the original White Castle hamburger restaurant opened in Wichita.  During this time a craze of 6-stool diners with very limited menus popped up around the USA. 

Within three months, the hole-in-the-wall was purchased by a young man, Robert Kinkel. Kinkel had just ended a short career playing semi-pro baseball on a Kansas farm team and had relocated to Salina looking for a business opportunity.

The joint served palm-sized hamburgers grilled with a generous heap of onions for a nickel. The burger became known as a "slider", most likely from the fry cooks practice of sliding the sandwich down the counter on a sheet of waxed paper. The slider was dressed with pickle, catsup, and mustard….never cheese. It is rumored that an employee once placed a slice of cheese on a patty, only to be fired for his blunder.

As the Depression years hit America, joints like The Cozy Inn gained success by providing depression-hit customers with a satisfying, yet inexpensive meal. Low overhead, due to the small size of the building, an unchanging menu, and minimal staff requirements, enabled the price of the burger to remain at 5-cents for 20 years.

Immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, announcements were made that two military installations would be built in Saline County. The next years brought an influx of tens of thousands of young soldiers to Salina. The Cozy Inn gained great popularity during the war years as a hang-out for GI's needing a good meal on soldier's pay.

Bob Kinkel and his wife, Kathryn, enjoyed the continued success of The Cozy during the 1950's and 60's. It was a time when America's youth became obsessed with hamburgers, soda pop, and tucked away joints like The Cozy Inn.

After Bob Kinkel's death, his wife Kathryn and her second husband, Dick Pickering, continued The Cozy legacy. In the 1970's they became renowned for their annual anniversary celebrations, offering Cozies, chips, and beverages at "yesterday's prices."

Upon the Pickerings' deaths in the 1990s, Kathryn bequeathed The Cozy Inn to three Salina institutions: St. John's Military School, Kansas Wesleyan University, and Salina Regional Health Center. After two years, the organizations decided to sell the restaurant which had long since become a historical spot both locally and nationally.

Three Salina businessmen stepped forward to purchase this bit of local history. Brothers-in-law, Max Holthaus and Gregg Boyle, and Monte Shadwick acquired The Cozy in 1996, during its 75th year of business. Holthaus has food service expertise as general manager of the Salina Country Club and Boyle, a civil engineer, has gained financial acumen through business ownership. Shadwick went on to other ventures in 2001.

Max Holtaus saw traits in Steve Howard's personality and that caused him to convince Steve to buy The Cozy in 2007.  Steve has been a great fit and you'll see him behind the counter flipping burgers and sliding them down the counter with the best of them.  Howard has the understanding of what it takes to care for the reputation of a legend and he does it well.

Source www.cozyburger.com

Grilling the hamburger and onions on the old grill.
 Ready to eat sliders. 
 Buy em' by the sack!