It’s a long way from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Louis to serving brunch in Naples, but Eric Becker is glad he made the journey. In March 2012, he opened EJ’s Bayfront Café and never looked back.
“I’ve worked in country clubs and fine dining restaurants, and I know it’s hard to meet customer expectations in those situations,” says Becker. “Breakfast and lunch have a better profit margin, and it gives me the flexibility to have a family and a life.”
Don’t think Becker is taking it easy, however. The café serves 450 to 500 diners per day in season, and the pace is fast. Even so, he remains committed to using fresh, seasonal produce in nearly every dish. “Our mission was to create a family-oriented restaurant that would bring the community together and offer a homemade, quality product.”
Benedicts are the most popular category on the encyclopedic menu, but Becker says customers also crave his banana-stuffed French toast. The biggest change over the past seven years has been the proliferation of lighter choices, such as his tofu scramble, black bean cakes, and smoothies. “As a population, we’re definitely trending more toward healthier foods,” he says.
One thing about EJ’s Bayfront Café that won’t change is the restaurant’s pet-friendly policy. The large terrace accommodates dogs, and a county dog park is directly across the street. (ejsbayfrontcafe.com)