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Local eatery expanding space, adding breakfast and lunch

Ashley Morales

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COPA, in St. Petersburg's EDGE District, is set to undergo an expansion, growing into the space next door to introduce new breakfast and lunch offerings. Photos provided.

An EDGE district dinner and cocktails spot is planning a major expansion, doubling its size and introducing new hours and menus.

COPA has been serving Afro-Latin Caribbean fusion entrees, tapas and craft cocktails since it opened at 1047 Central Avenue in 2019. COPA is now looking to double its footprint by taking over the space next door at 1043 Central, which the restaurant Italy Bottega previously rented until it closed earlier this year.

Brothers and co-owners Sebastien and Maxim Thuriere said the new “COPA Cafe” will have a similar look as their popular dinner and drinks brand, but will serve breakfast and lunch items.

“It will be much more of a daytime space where people can come and work remotely or just sit at the bar and have a coffee,” Maxim Thuriere told the Catalyst. “We’re going to have a limited menu of breakfast and lunch items, more in the grab-and-go domain instead of a full-service breakfast and lunch. We will also have a window in the back where we will kind of be able to provide a curbside window concept, as well.”

Thuriere said the success they’ve seen at COPA so far and an influx of new apartments, condos and hotel guests coming to the EDGE District encouraged the brothers to capitalize on the available space next door.

“We opened just a few months before Covid, so it kind of forced us to put all of our effort and resources into COPA and focus our attention on the things that make people keep coming back, like using the best ingredients and making sure we’re offering a product that people can tell their friends about,” he said. “We’re born and raised in St. Pete, so we’re loyal to our community. We want to not only be a spot for people visiting St. Pete but also that we’re appealing to our neighbors and the people that live in our community.”

“We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to do some nights, some mornings and just kind of keep things fresh,” said COPA co-owner Maxim Thuriere.

The expansion will include adding a handful of new employment opportunities with daytime hours. The brothers also want to focus on keeping prices affordable while still maintaining the quality and experience COPA is known for.

“We find it a bit irritating when you’re going into places and feeling like you’re being overcharged, so we want to make sure that the people in our community can always come here,” Thuriere said. “We’re making sure that we can be personable and build a relationship with our immediate community, because that has definitely helped us find our success and kind of find our footing here so far.”

The owners are still working on finalizing permitting and licensing approval from the City, so they don’t have an exact timeline, but hope to open COPA Cafe by this summer. Thuriere said because the previous space was already zoned and built out for food service, they won’t have to complete any intrusive renovations. 

“We’ve definitely seen and heard from our regulars that having those extra service hours will definitely appeal to a different crowd,” Thuriere said. “We’re pretty confident, and we see how much the neighborhood has grown – there is a demand for more lunch and breakfast options in the area. Having this different concept stimulates new ideas, new energy, new positions and definitely brings more to the table for everybody.”

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