UPDATE: Copper Crown has announced its opening dates. Check the info box below for more details.
Set slightly off the street in the Hometrust Bank Plaza, the restaurant space at 1011 E. Tunnel Road is most easily identified from afar by its tall, pointed copper roof. It was this distinguishing architectural highlight that inspired the name for East Asheville’s soon-to-open Copper Crown.
The restaurant, a project of Zambra executive chef Adam Bannasch and his wife, Kate, takes over the corner spot that was once occupied by Café Azalea and later by 1011 Pizzeria and Deli. It is scheduled to open later this month.
As residents of East Asheville’s Beverly Hills community, the Bannasches are looking forward to bringing another dining option to their neighborhood. “We felt so strongly that there needed to be more on this side of town,” Kate explains. “We used to drive by this spot, and I would think, ‘If only that became available.’”
Adam will be the executive chef at Copper Crown while maintaining his position at Zambra, where he has worked for 11 years. He brings with him from Zambra sous chef Seth Walters. Kate, previously a server at Cucina 24, will fill the role of general manager, and heading up the bar program will be Andrew LaFiosca, the Southern Kitchen & Bar bartender who spearheaded that restaurant’s successful Monday night speakeasy series in its Dirty South lounge.
And although the Bannasches, who are the parents of two school-aged boys, are aiming to create a neighborhood bistro that will be welcoming to families, the bar will also be a focal point, both visually and menu-wise. Form & Function Architecture completely redesigned the space, giving it a retro-modern feel with with lots of wood, white subway tile, vinyl and chrome accented with bursts of color. The new 54-seat floor plan features a prominent granite-topped bar that extends into the dining area.
“We’re hoping that the bar will be one of the main attractions here,” says Kate. “We have a lot of confidence that [LaFiosca] is going to help us find that middle ground where we can bring in some really fun and exciting cocktails but also keep them really accessible.”
In the evenings, the bar will offer a few classics plus specialty cocktails, including a $9 Mezcal Mule with mezcal, fresh lime, pineapple, ginger beer and cayenne, and the $8 Copper Cup with gin, orange bitters, Campari, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit. LaFiosca has also created a menu of lunch cocktails, all available for around $6 each. Choices will include a house-made rosemary or lavender lemonade with either gin or vodka, beer cocktails and rum punches.
To begin with, the Copper Crown will be open for lunch, dinner and Saturday and Sunday brunch. The Bannasches plan to cater to breakfast and brunch lovers on a daily basis by offering a breakfast-brunch crossover concept. The restaurant will open at 10:30 a.m. daily, and the lunch menu will always feature a couple of breakfast dishes — think egg and cheese with sorghum sausage on an English muffin for $4 or a breakfast taco with egg, potato, green chiles and queso fresco for $3. Adam says they will consider adding earlier morning hours and a full breakfast menu in the future if there is interest.
There will be counter service for lunch, switching to table service in the evening and for weekend brunch. “For lunch, we want to cater to people who work in this part of town who maybe don’t have time for a sit-down lunch,” says Kate. “They can either do takeout or will have a very expedited experience if they decide to stay. For dinner, we’ll have the same sort of idea — a very approachable, New American style — but just a little bit more refinement.”
In addition to the breakfast fare, the lunch menu will offer an affordable selection of salads and sandwiches such as a pork cutlet with lemon-caper aioli, Swiss cheese and chow-chow for $8.50 and double-patty burgers with all the trimmings for $6.50. A generous array of side items includes Buffalo-fried green tomatoes and red beans and rice.
The dinner menu will feature fresh pasta and risotto specials and entrees such as cornmeal-encrusted North Carolina catfish over jambalaya with Haw Creek Honey-Tabasco butter, all in the $12-$20 range. A small-plate menu will also be available, including choices such as black-eyed pea fritters with ham-hock salad and hot-pepper vinaigrette for $5 and barbecued shrimp with charred bread for $9.
Brunch patrons will find small plates in the $3-$5 range (beignets, sweet-potato johnnycakes and crispy chicken livers on toast with tomato-pepper jam, to name a few) as well as loaded hash-browns, veggie and egg plates; blackened chicken po’ boys and other hearty options in the $8-$9 range.
Adam works with local farms, including 10-Mile Farm, Gaining Ground, Hickory Nut Gap and others, as well as frequenting area tailgate markets, to source meat and produce. Plenty of vegetarian options will be available, and there will be a kids menu too.
The mention of jambalaya, beignets and po’ boys — plus the fact that the Bannasches moved to Asheville from New Orleans — may lead one to believe that the Copper Crown’s specialty is Louisiana cuisine. But the Bannasches want to dispel any rumors that they are opening a Creole restaurant. “There may be a po’ boy here and there as a special,” says Kate, “but that’s definitely not what our focus is.”
With ample parking both in front of and below the building and a covered outdoor dining area that features a fountain and shade trees, the Bannasches hope to draw all types of diners, from Blue Ridge Parkway tourists to local soccer parents from the nearby Azalea Park soccer fields in need of post-practice burgers for the family. But, mainly, they want to provide East Asheville with a new neighborhood hangout.
“We just want to be a part of East Asheville and help it be all it can be,” Kate says.