Few things can best dive bar potato soup night and a cheeseburger.
Chillicothe suffers no shortage of neighborhood dive bars that have catered to locals for decades, but Cozy Inn Bar & Grill ranks among the city’s best entries. Original owner Bill Allen opened Cozy Inn Bar & Grill in 1977 after two decades of work in a local paper mill and a military history that included the Vietnam War. It should come as no surprise then that Cozy Inn Chillicothe has endured decades of economic twists and turns thanks to Allen’s dedication.
After retiring in 2016 after almost 40 years of Cozy Inn operation, Allen was supported by children Stephanie Miller and Matt Allen in finding a buyer for the Chillicothe dive bar after it was briefly shuttered when Allen stepped aside. Reopened in 2017, subtle additions have been made to the space and its event schedule (musical Bingo, for example), but little else has changed in a building that fits in seamlessly with the residential neighborhood that surrounds it. Allen sadly passed away in 2023 but his legacy lives on in a largely preserved Cozy Inn.
Food is very much a part of the Cozy Inn Chillicothe tradition, including a Friday potato soup special that has long run on Fridays during cold weather months. The soup’s reputation is surpassed only by the Cozy Inn cheeseburger, a neighborhood staple and the dive bar’s most talked about food item. The kitchen closes around 8 PM but lunch hours are bustling and even kid-friendly, another symptom of dedication to the local neighborhood.
Wrapped in pale blue siding, red trim provides the only real visual accent to the building outside of the Cozy Inn sign above the front door inscribed with the name of the bar in classic script lettering. Walking through the Cozy Inn front door feels a bit like walking through a portal to the late 1970s in keeping with the vibe created by Allen all those decades ago. Wood paneling wraps the Cozy Inn space supported by an updated wood-style floor and the traditional dive bar drop ceiling.
Because of the focus on food at Cozy Inn, the footprint leans a little more toward diner-dive bar hybrid than anything else. The bar itself runs along one of the interior walls, the counter covered in pennies under a clear epoxy. The area behind the bar comes from the dive bar handbook to be sure, mirrored panels behind shelved liquor bottles and underneath a handful of dollar bills stapled to the wall. The rest of the space is covered by restaurant-style seating made up of short round tables and a handful of booths along one of the rear walls.
It should come as no surprise that Cozy Inn features no draft beer and instead relies on a deep refrigerator full of domestic, import and craft beer varieties. Swinging doors give way to the kitchen in the rear of the Cozy Inn space that cranks out the diner-style food that has so long been a staple of the Cozy Inn appeal. Bar signage is limited here, restricted to a handful of beer special posters and the odd bit of neon. Not to be missed is the Cozy Inn-inscribed Budweiser bowtie neon sign in the rear of the Chillicothe dive bar.