The Seafarer has a whale of a story

Mint Hill Times

The Seafarer's sign on Albemarle Road has become a landmark over the years.

Walking through the front door, the first things you notice are the numerous Andy Griffith, Three Stooges and other classic TV show memorabilia.

The next thing you notice is the smell of food from the kitchen and the many smiling faces that greet you as you come through the door.

If the huge whale on the sign doesn’t draw you in, the restaurant’s motto, “For a Whale of a Meal” or its huge menu might.

This is South 21’s The Seafarer. Though it’s only been around since the 1980s, many of its recipes have been around since the mid 1950s.

“Me and my father came up this way to go rabbit hunting and we stopped and pulled into this parking lot about 30 something years ago while waiting on an uncle to come join us,” said Chris Copsis the restaurant’s owner. “While we were waiting, we noticed a sign on the building that was for lease or for sale.”

After hunting, Copsis made a few phone calls and later sold his drum set, van and a few other items.


“My father signed a co-sign for me and I opened up the South 21 Seafarer restaurant,” said Copsis. “It was about October of 1981 and we’ve been here ever since.”

Some of his restaurant’s menu was influenced by his father and uncles who started the South 21 Drive-in restaurant in 1955. They later opened two more in Charlotte under the same name.

“In 1955 they opened up the first one on South Boulevard, 1957 they opened a second location on Independence Boulevard and in 1959, they opened a third location on North Tryon Street,” said Copsis.

He said he began working at the restaurants at age 12.

“I was the oldest of all the children and I went to work for them when I got out of school,” said Copsis.

He said some people today still remember him from his father’s and uncle’s restaurants.

“I still have customers that come here now that remember me standing on Coca Cola crates making ice-T and Coca Cola,” said Copsis.

Though the restaurant and the land around it have changed some since the 1980s, Copsis said he enjoys running it and all the people he meets.

Vicki and Peter Ambrose are regulars at Copsis’ restaurant.

“He comes here for the fish and I come so I can get something other than fish,” Vicki Ambrose said.

Seafood, pasta, barbecue, salads, hamburgers and a number of other items can be found on Copsis’ menu.

His restaurants offers eat-in, carry out, catering and private dining services. It is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Copsis said that overall, he loves running the restaurant because he loves people.

“You got to love people to be in the restaurant business,” Copsis said. “You gotta love people.”

Often Copsis can be found walking around the restaurant, greeting his many customers.

To learn more about the restaurant visit or call (704) 536-7540.

5 comments on “The Seafarer has a whale of a story
  1. Nice story but I have a a bit more info about this guy that “loves people”. When my daughter was about 5, we met up with about 12 other family members for a meal at the Seafarer. We ordered a CHILDs fish plate for our daughter. She started eating it and became chocked on a fish bone. The kind waitress brought us some lemon juice and was so helpful. In just a few minutes she was publicly reprimanded for neglecting her other customers. The waitress even asked if we needed her to call an ambulance (with him standing beside her). Because our daughter was still gagging and crying, my husband & I decided to leave our other child with my parents and the rest of our family group and take her to the hospital to be checked out. My husband was carrying her out and I am running ahead to get the car unlocked. This guy that “loves people” comes running out into the parking lot screaming at us for leaving with paying our ticket. There were 12 other people still at our table. He does not love people he loves money. Needless to say none of of have ever been back.

  2. i love that whale thing when i would go with my mom to chick-fa-lia i would love to look at it and i loved how it used to spray out water. :)


  3. What memories…. Chris is awesome and so was his father who we all called Mr. Sam. Our family always feels welcomed. During a time when I was starting a business they allowed me to work part time with flexible hours to help earn some seed money for my business. Then they hired my company to do various jobs for them to help us get a good start. The 80′s were really a boom time in that area and I remember lines way out the door. All kids liked the Whale! My parents loved the South 21 on Ind. Blvd. The food has always been great and Chris has done so much for the community over the years. They are “good people”.

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