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Historic Charm Meets Culinary Excellence at Copper Modern Indian Cuisine

If you have been on East Blvd, then you have likely seen Copper Modern Cuisine close to the intersection of East and South Boulevards. Located in a historic home called the Mayer House, this restaurant has been serving customers for more than 15 years. 

History of the Mayer Home

In 1988, the Mayer House was given a historic designation by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Landmarks Commission. They deemed the home to be historically significant because it is one of the oldest surviving homes in Dilworth. And many of the original aspects of the home have remained. It was originally built between 1907 and 1908 by Robert A. and Mina Brem Mayer. Mrs. Mayer’s parents were also prominent Charlotteans and lived on East Boulevard. Mr Mayer spent over 50 years in the insurance business and was still going to the office up to his death at age 94. He was also Duke University's longest-serving trustee from 1896-1964.  The Mayers lived there until 1916 when they bought a newly-constructed home on Harvard Place in the heart of a new neighborhood called Myers Park.  To entice the Mayers to move, the developer, George Stephens, bought their Dilworth home. Stephens was the owner of The Stephens Company which was the chief rival to Edward Latta who developed Dilworth.

Mr. Stephens made the same deal with Mrs. Mayer’s parents, the Brems, where he also sold them a house on Harvard Place and bought their previous Dilworth home.  Interestingly, after just two years, the Brems felt that Myers Park was “too far out in the country,” and they moved back to Dilworth.

The house had other notable owners such as Eli Springs. Mr Springs’ uncle was the mayor of Charlotte in 1897-99. But Mr. Springs’ family was best known for its ownership of Springs Industries. Based in Fort Mill, SC, it was the largest industrial employer in South Carolina with 25,000 employees in 34 plants located in 6 states.  Springs Industries, at one time, was the largest manufacturer of sheets and the 3rd largest publicly-held textile manufacturer in the U.S.

Also, budding author Carson McCullers and her husband, Reeves McCuller, bought the home in 1937. It was in that house that Mrs. McCullers, at the age of 23, wrote her first book, “The House is a Lonely Hunter.”  The book brought her lots of attention and rose quickly to the top of the bestseller list.

From Historic Charlotte Home to One-of-a-Kind Indian Establishment

Now back to Copper….the restaurant is sometimes confused with the Kopper Kettle, a 50+ year old diner, on Nations Road.  I have great memories of going to the Kopper Kettle with my first boss, Hugo Heidenreich, who loved the place.  But Copper is no diner.  It’s really unlike any other Indian restaurant in Charlotte.  Most Indian restaurants in the city are known for their broad menus covering over 100 items. Copper selected dishes they believed best represented Indian cuisine and only enough items to fill a one-page menu. Some people like this and others do not. For example, they have chicken tikka masala. At most Indian restaurants, one can also order it with tikka masala with other meats such as beef or lamb, and goat. But at Copper, it is only served with chicken. And that is because the chicken is marinated for several hours before the dish is prepared.

To me, the hallmark of this restaurant is the home in which it is located. When walking in, you truly feel like you are walking into someone's vintage home. The owners, Pannu Singh and Chef Naveen Sadana, have done a great job of thoughtfully fitting the restaurant into the home in a way that it showcases the home’s many features.  There is also great seating on the large front porch that has been enclosed with glass when longtime restaurant, Eli’s, was there.

What’s on the Menu?

Candidly, we’ve not tried many things on the menu during the many occasions that we have eaten at Copper. Part of the reason is because neither Beth nor I tolerate spicy food well. So, I always get the chicken tikka masala, because it is not too spicy, and I love it so much. As I mentioned before, the meat is marinated for several hours in yogurt and a variety of spices.  It is then skewered and char-grilled.  The chicken is then served in a creamy orange-colored sauce made from tomatoes, yogurt, onion, ginger, garlic, and chili pepper.  Beth usually gets the chicken tikka which is similar to my dish in that the chicken is marinated in the same spices then char-grilled. But it does not have the masala cream sauce. She eats a lot healthier than I do sometimes!  We do like samosas a lot and order those sometimes. They are a fried puff pastry which can be filled with spices and a variety of ingredients.  The most common forms are filled with potatoes, lentils, peas, and onions.  

We have not tried any of the desserts. But when I want something sweet, I will order a mango lassi.  If you have never tried one, you are in for a treat - especially if you like mango. They are made of yogurt, a little milk, cardamon, mango, sometimes a bit of sugar and are served cold.  A mango lassi is quite refreshing - especially in the summer.  And since mango and yogurt are packed with nutrients, they are both considered superfoods!

If you like Indian food or you want to try it for the first time, Copper is a great choice. Not only because of the food, but the service is excellent, and the setting is second to none compared to its competitors in Charlotte. 


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