The word “cozy” is usually code for “really tiny.” And make no mistake, the Cozy Cottage is an itty-bitty box of a place. The breakfast diner and luncheonette on Downing Street, just south of Evans Avenue, barely has room for its six interior tables and two outdoor picnic benches. On weekend mornings, the number of people waiting outside often exceeds the number of those seated inside. Which, for me, became the tantalizing Catch-22.

My wife and I, along with our two sons, figured the relentless crowds meant Cozy Cottage must be worth the wait. The specials advertised on the chalkboard out front—blue cheese and bacon omelet, carrot cake pancakes, apple-caramel pancakes—were irresistible. And so, one morning, we waited—only to return the following weekend, and the one after that.

The four-year-old eatery was a defunct bakery until Jeanette Mueller and her son Michael bought the joint and converted it to the Cottage. Jeanette, who is in her 60s, is the sharp-witted boss, manager, bouncer, den mother, waitress, and baker. She makes all of the cakes and cookies, and serves freshly baked cookies with the check. Michael is the contractor (he remodeled the Cottage), cook, bookkeeper, and, as Jeanette puts it, “deals with the emotional stuff.” The mother and son are Denver natives, and have been in the restaurant business together since the thirtysomething Michael was seven years old.

Their collective experience and care—for their customers and for the food—shows. Jeanette insists that the food at the Cottage be cooked to order, with no preservatives, and she changes the monthly specials to seize on fresh ingredients and to keep things lively. Everything Michael makes—especially the pancakes and French toast—have been worth the wait. And for our family of four, the bill has never been more than $30.

One of the hearty staples of the menu is Eggs O’Brien. It’s a scrambled hash of eggs, potatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese with a side of fresh peas. I never would have dreamed of eating peas for breakfast, but I did, because Jeanette served them to me, promising they would be good. She was right. Cozy Cottage, 2423 S. Downing St., 303-733-0219