Alexander Bernard came to Naples from New England to open Margaux’s, where he served as chef and co-owner for five years. One day he stumbled upon an abandoned coffee shop on Tamiami Trail North and was intrigued by the lush, serene courtyard. With the encouragement of his wife, Monika, he opened in 1995
“She’s been the biggest influence on me in moving toward healthier cuisine,” Bernard says of his wife, who has a background in dance and nutrition. “We now do a special health-oriented menu—two appetizers and two entrées—that changes regularly and has become extremely popular.”
Another influence in his farm-to-table repertoire are his summer sabbaticals in Europe and California, which he takes while Alexander’s shutters from May through September. The restaurant reopened on September 26 and will serve lunch and dinner throughout the season. Once each month the chef emerges from the kitchen for his popular cooking classes that attract a devoted clientele.
While Bernard has witnessed many changes in customer preferences over the years—including a newfound hunger for ethnic cuisines—he believes keeping tabs on trends and remaining aware of his diners’ desires has helped him stay in business for a quarter of a century. “You have to work hard and keep the restaurant fresh, but the most important thing is interacting with your guests and knowing who they are,” he says. “You can have the best food and the best service, but ultimately the customers need to know that you want them there.” alexandersnaples.com