By Carmen Brown
Photos by Mary Tweedy
If there’s one thing that all Alabaster residents are familiar with, it’s the beloved yet often infamous train. Catching people on their way to work; often causing them to be late, startling unsuspecting commuters with its blaring horn. The train has become a hilarious fixture in the lives and conversations of everyone working or living in the city.
Lifelong resident, chef and entrepreneur Dakota Stone knows this, and she’s paying homage with her aptly titled restaurant, The Copper Train. Located quite appropriately on the strip off of Highway 31 near the railroad tracks on 224 1st Street South, The Copper Train has quickly become known as a quaint gathering place for breakfast, lunch or brunch, featuring unique creations made from scratch by Stone, herself.
The restaurant offers regular menu items like scones, French toast and signature coffees (even the syrups are made in-house), but Stone also comes up with “surprise” goodies like bologna biscuits, Waffle Wednesdays and holiday items like iced Mexican hot chocolate.
The restaurant, which she opened with her family on September 7, 2021, was a lifelong dream for Stone, who said she grew up helping her parents, Tim and Tammy Yeager, in the kitchen.
“Both of my parents were great cooks,” Stone says. “My grandma taught my mom how to cook, and my nana taught my dad how to cook. I was always the creative type, and by the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a chef.”
After graduating from Thompson High School, Stone went on to graduate from Jefferson State Community College’s culinary school in 2017 and immediately began making plans with her husband, Ryan, and her parents to open her own place.
Of course, the name was an easy decision.
“My mom was on her way to work, singing and worshiping in her car, and she looked around and saw an abandoned train cart,” Stone says. “That was right when we were discussing possible names. We thought that was perfect because the train runs right through Alabaster. We all talked about it, and it just caught on.”
The location was initially slated for a building across the street, but after several months of planning, circumstances changed and plans were put on hold when she learned she was pregnant with her now four-year-old daughter, Norah. Then in January of last year, she learned that a nearby building had become available, and her parents knew the owners.
“The kitchen, tables and chairs were all there ready to go,” she says. “It was a bit of a whirlwind. We got it, and said, ‘let’s do this.’”
While Stone is the owner-operator, her husband and parents are also owners and help with the restaurant’s daily tasks and management.
“They do a lot of behind-the-scenes things. My mom does a lot of the accounting and comes in sometimes to help bake, and I have a small kitchen staff. Everything is made from scratch, even the coffee syrups.”
With a maximum of 50 occupants, free Wi-Fi and the soft music of groups like The Lone Bellow and Johnnyswim playing on Spotify in the background, ambiance is a high priority for Stone.
“It’s very chill and relaxing. I love brunch food, and I love small cafés and coffee shops, so I wanted to offer that same kind of appeal and live out that dream of creating a community where people can get together,” Stone says.
However, it wasn’t just about a dream fulfilled. For Stone, the restaurant is about giving back to her city. Just as the train will always be a part of Alabaster, she hopes her restaurant will be as well.
“There aren’t very many mom and pop type places in Alabaster, so I’m excited to be able to meet that need,” she says. “Business has been going pretty well, but a lot of people still don’t know about it. Every day I have customers come in and say they had no idea this place was here.”
Her next step? A more prominent sign—but without the red flashing lights or crossing arms.
The Copper Train is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Breakfast is served until 10:30 a.m. For more information or to learn about seasonal or new featured items, visit The Copper Train’s Facebook page or call (205) 358-8179.
The Copper Train Favorite Menu Items
Cinnamon or blueberry-lemon scones: “We offer six different flavors, but these are the most popular.”
The TCT Bestseller: eggs, Gouda grits, with a choice of bacon or sausage and toast or biscuit.
Stuffed French Toast: French toast with sweet cream cheese, topped with seasonal fruit compote and powdered sugar with a choice of bacon or sausage.
The Copper Griddle: A sandwich made with two slices of French toast, sausage, sharp white cheddar cheese, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of maple syrup.
The Alabaster: Chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla.
The Copper Latte: “It’s a twist on the vanilla latte. I mix brown sugar with vanilla,” Stone says.
The Honey Bee: Espresso, lavender, honey and milk.
The Taste of Dixie: Espresso, molasses, sorghum syrup and milk.
The Big Timmy (named after her father): Black forest ham, hot capocolla ham, havarti cheese, onion, spring mix green, banana peppers and house mayo on a sourdough (panini).
The Copper Train: Maple-glazed turkey, white sharp cheddar, sliced pears, and house mayo on sourdough bread (panini).
Trio salad: Classic salad with a choice of buttermilk ranch or balsamic vinaigrette and a choice of three scoops of either chicken salad, pimento cheese, broccoli salad or BLT pasta salad.
Watermelon salad (seasonal): watermelon, jicama, pepitas, cotija, cilantro and a citrus vinaigrette.
Side items on the menu include a BLT salad, a classic side salad, pasta salad, broccoli salad and a soup of the day.
Ice cream made from scratch, truffles, cupcakes, swiss cakes and homemade cookies; newly added items include key lime pie, German chocolate cupcakes and strawberry cheese Danishes and white chocolate macadamia cookies.
The Copper Train also offers a kids’ menu with junior versions of the French toast and the TCT breakfast, along with turkey, cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches.