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The new restaurant empire? Coppa wants to be the next Carrabba's, sets big expansion plans

Coppa on Washington Avenue: Just the first of many? Photo via Coppa Ristorante Italiano/Facebook
hanover rice village

Less than a year after Coppa replaced Catalan on Washington Avenue, co-owner Charles Clark has announced that the restaurant is expanding, with a second location planned for Rice Village.

Coppa is the first confirmed retail or restaurant concept in the Hanover Rice Village, a mixed-use development currently under construction between Dunstan, Morningside and Kelvin streets. It's also the first time a Clark/Cooper restaurant — others include Ibiza and Brasserie 19 — will expand beyond one location.

"We've had a lot of success with Coppa on Washington, " Clark tells CultureMap. "It's a concept we think we could take to Dallas and Austin. It's approachable — cleaner and lighter than most Italian." Clark name checks Carrabba's as another Houston-based Italian concept that has done well by multiplying.

Coppa in Rice Village will be approximately the same size as the original location, about 5,600 square feet, with a pizza window, two pizza ovens, a "dough room" for private parties and planned cooking classes on pizza and pasta, including gluten-free pasta, Clark says. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2013 with a tentative opening set for July.

Coppa executive chef Brandi Key will serve as a corporate chef overseeing both locations, and potentially more in the future.

"Brandi was at Pappas for eight or nine years and she's so organized she's already got three or four more locations mapped out on paper," Clark says.

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