Copia signs lease for second location, taking Morton’s space in Clayton

Original Article By:  George Mahe, St. Louis Magazine

Amer Hawatmeh, owner of Copia Restaurant & Urban Winery downtown, has inked a lease for a sister restaurant at 7822 Bonhomme in Clayton, the present home of Morton’s steakhouse.

When Copia [Represented by L3’s Alex Apter] opened, at 1122 Washington Avenue downtown, in 2005, “Washington Avenue was alive,” recalls Hawatmeh. But since the  inception of Ballpark Village, he laments, revenue has significantly decreased—50 percent by 2014 and 66 percent at present. With the restaurant spanning 18,000 square feet, plus a 6,000-square-foot covered patio, Hawatmeh says no dining establishment, let alone “the biggest restaurant in the Midwest,” can survive with decreasing numbers.

Regardless, he plans for Copia to remain in the downtown space until the lease expires in January 2019. In the meantime, construction on the Clayton location will commence as soon as Morton’s moves, which Hawatmeh says should be a matter of months.

The veteran restaurateur previously owned Garavelli’s and Nantucket Cove and says “the Cove did well in Clayton” and looks forward to returning. Determined to restore Copia to its original reputation and glory, he’s eyeing yet another location, either in Frontenac or West County. He expects one or the other to materialize “soon.”

When Copia first opened, guests were amazed at the restaurant’s sheer size, the attached wine store, and the labyrinth of private rooms downstairs. “The massive, reasonably priced wine list and the 6,000-square-foot patio with a retractable roof was the talk of the town,” Hawatmeh says. That’s not to mention the seafood, he adds, with “fish so fresh, it doesn’t even know it’s out of the water.”

In SLM‘s February 2007 issue, dining critic Dave Lowry wrote, “Copia sits near the center of Washington Avenue’s bustling and burgeoning entertainment scene; in terms of quality, it’s quite near the top.” A massive fire later that year significantly damaged the building, but the restaurant reopened to positive reviews in June 2010.

The food and wine offerings in Clayton will offer the same breadth and quality that customers have come to expect, he says. “And if we could have done a retractable roof there, we would have.”

Source:  St. Louis Magazine

L3 Corporation is a leading retail commercial brokerage firm specializing in tenant representation, landlord representation and property acquisition and disposition. Members of L3 Corporation have brought deals to fruition in excess of 35,650,000 square feet spanning over 100 cities throughout the United States and Canada. L3 Corporation is focused exclusively on retail real estate. Contact Alex Apter for more information about this deal or for any of your retail real estate needs.