Roberto Copa Matos


As a chef who has been educated as a biochemist and has also worked as an artist, Roberto has a singular approach to the kitchen: he treats it as both a laboratory and a studio, creating precise, attractive dishes. Roberto began his journey in 2011 as a chef at Old Havana Sandwich Shop, quite by surprise. But he soon grew to love the craft and profession. 

From the first year it opened, Old Havana consistently won awards for Best of the Triangle and Best of Durham in its categories, including Best Cuban, Best Latin American and Caribbean, and Best Sandwich. 

Before long, Roberto realized that he had found his calling in “cultivating relationships from the soil to the table.” This is the vision that he brings with him to COPA: a passion for connecting diners to the land and history that is steeped into every bite.

Roberto sees today that the serpentine paths of his life have crisscrossed too many times to count, with each intersection bringing him closer to his true calling. Part scientist, part artist, part farmer, Roberto never intended to be a chef—but today he can’t imagine being anything else.






Elizabeth Turnbull

Bar Director and Owner
(also Publicist and sometimes Pastry Chef)

Like her husband and partner, Elizabeth fell into the restaurant industry quite unintentionally. And like Roberto, she has found great joy in the unexpected. As Bar Director, Elizabeth oversees the development of COPA's Cuban cocktails and bar program. You can often find her tending bar, working on a new recipe, or geeking out over a new find in an old book.

Elizabeth also brings with her a long background in marketing and writing. As marketing director, she uses her experience to build relationships with the community and share the story of the restaurant.

Elizabeth has been pleased to help COPA tell its story in local, regional, and even national media outlets, spreading message that sustainable, farm-to-table Cuban food isn’t just possible, it’s delicious. She counts it among her greatest pleasures to share the joy and adventure of a meal where every mouthful (or glassful) is anchored in a far-off time and place, but where the ingredients came from a garden just down the way.