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In a city with no shortage of po-boys it can be difficult to differentiate one from the next, but Roz and Max Gruenig, owners of Koz's (515 Harrison Avenue; 484-0841; 6215 Wilson St., Harahan, 737-3933; www.kozcooks.com), say their secret is the bread.
"Really, our bread is different than [what] most people use," Roz says of the soft, fluffy loaves from Gendusa Bakery that have been a staple at the Lakeview eatery since it opened two years ago.
In addition to 20 different types of po-boys, including home-cooked roast beef, fried oyster and meatball versions, Koz's also whips up daily hot plates such as red beans and rice, grilled chicken and country-fried steak. And don't forget about the 36 inches of po-boy goodness that gives Koz's the slogan "Home of the Whole Loaf" and keeps the kitchen and servers busy on the weekends.
"[The whole loaf] is good for parties, before football games," Roz says. "A family of four can eat one for dinner."
While Koz's is relatively new to New Orleans, the Gruenig family is a fixture in the po-boy business. Koz Gruenig, Max's father, began working at the Po-boy Factory in Gentilly at age 12. He opened the first Koz's restaurant in Harahan after Hurricane Katrina.
"[My father] laid the groundwork," Max says. "He's a major part of everything. He still even cooks."
Seated in the cozy restaurant, where family photographs decorate sage green and mustard yellow walls, Roz and Max, who have been married for three years, greet customers by name as they enter, asking how their jobs are going, what their children are up to, and how they enjoyed their vacations.
"Sitting with the customers and talking to people all day, it's my favorite part [of Koz's]," says Roz, balancing her 3-month-old daughter Sophie on her lap. "We met people two years ago and it feels like we've known them forever ... They're like family."
"If I had a really good memory I'd get to know everyone's name," Max says. "I think that's what really sets us apart — becoming friends with our customers. And a lot of it is due to my dad. He's [just] short of 50 years in the business. That's a long time to make sandwiches."