Bozo’s Sub and Sandwich Shop closes after serving the community for 34 years
By Jimmie Davis, Jr.
During the 70’s, Bozo the Clown was a very popular sit-com that was televised around the nation – but here in Fort Lauderdale there was no clowning around at Bozo’s Sub & Sandwich Shop and Catering by Rosa when it came to preparing mouth-watering meals.
But just like the television show ended, Bozo’s Sub and Sandwich Shop, located at 601 S.W. 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has finally closed its doors after serving South Florida residents for 34 years.
If it were left up to Rosa Bozeman, 71, the restaurant would still be open – but after battling stage three breast cancer and her family members advising her to retire, she shut down her operation.
“I’ve been through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery and made it from beginning to end. Now I’m faced with reoccurring breast cancer,” said Bozeman during her retirement and victory celebration, which was held on Oct. 6, 2012. “My kids said that it was time for me to retire.”
Having a restaurant since 1978, Bozeman has served everyone from students attending Stranahan High School (located several blocks away), dignitaries from the Broward County political arena, professional athletes and staff from the Westside Gazette.
Corey Thomas, 40, a graduate of Stranahan, has been a loyal customer for the last 20 years and says he’s going to yearn for Bozeman’s soul food night on Friday’s.
“It’s a joyful and awful moment today,” said Thomas. “Rosa has put so many years into pleasing her customers. I’m sorry she’s leaving and the community is going to miss her. I just wish her the best.”
Bozo’s no stranger to the spotlight and has won numerous awards for cooking and several newspaper articles have been written about the restaurant and the cheap lunch prices.
But most notably, Bozo’s was well-known for the collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and the fresh chicken salad it served along with the usual cheeseburgers and philly cheese steak subs.
Bozeman has six kids and has been married to her husband Lawrence for the last 26 years.
She says it hasn’t all been peaches and cream and during the beginning years she was met with racial opposition because certain white community members didn’t want a Black business in the area.
Furthermore, the neighbor-hood has been plagued with drugs and the 11th Avenue Bridge that leads to her sub shop was closed down for repairs on several occasions.
“From 2009-2010 we wanted to close, because business was bad,” said Bozeman. “But I have loyal customers that stood by me.”
Patron Donna Jones, 50, has been frequenting Bozo’s since she was 21-years-old. Jones actually became acquainted with Bozo’s through Bozeman’s daughter Faye and says it was heartbreaking to find out that the restaurant was closing down.
“Rosa is going to be greatly missed,” said Jones. “Rosa did more for her customers than she did for herself.” During the last 20 years, Jones says she would always stop by and purchase either fried shrimp or fish – but that she wouldn’t leave without getting a slice of Rosa’s delicious pineapple upside down cake.
Family members planned the retirement party for Bozeman, but she almost didn’t make it to the celebration because of an allergic reaction to medication she had taken and consequently ended up at the hospital.
“I went to the hospital earlier, and the doctor released me,” said Bozeman, as customers were coming in to purchase a meal, but were unaware that the restaurant had closed. “God is healing me and I live on his Word. I regret closing my business – but I just have to take care of my health now!”