New York restaurateur teams up with developer Bill Jones to resurrect Alexander's in Ormond Beach

Restaurateur Joe Oliva is opening Alexander's as a new steakhouse in the downtown.

Alexander's is making a return in Ormond Beach. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
Alexander's is making a return in Ormond Beach. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
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Longtime Ormond Beach residents may recall the days of Alexander’s Cafe. Some may even remember it as Alexander’s Blue Note Supper Club.

Now, after 27 years, Alexander’s is making a comeback in town.

Restaurateur Joe Oliva is officially opening Alexander’s Prime — a steakhouse, located at the restaurant’s original location at 123 W. Granada Blvd.— the week of Monday, April 8. It’s a space last occupied by Frappes Italian Grille, which closed in 2022 when its owner retired. Oliva has been in the restaurant business for 35 years, mostly in New York City. 

The restaurant has been in the works since October, when Oliva’s son met Mayor Bill Partington at a party. He mentioned Oliva was looking to open a restaurant in the area, and after a few conversations, Oliva connected with local developer Bill Jones and his representative Dorian Burt. A couple days later, Oliva got on a plane to meet Jones and the deal was hammered in a day.

“The restaurant business is always risky, but when I saw the facility — I met Mr. Jones and Dorian and the kind of people that they were — you don’t get deals like this in New York,” Oliva said. “So we said, ‘OK, we’ll take it. Take a chance. We’ll do one more.’”

Alexander’s will offer prime dry-aged steaks, but Oliva said he’s hoping to have something on the menu for everybody: hamburgers, pastas, seafood, with a wide range of pricing.

Alexander's Prime will open the week of Monday, April 8. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

He wants the restaurant to be a place patrons can enjoy for the every day and for special occasions.

“I don’t want people to say, ‘Oh, that’s only a place you can go for your anniversary,’ because that’s not true,” Oliva said. “You can come in the dining room and sit at the table and have a hamburger. ... We’re going to have the menu run the gamut in pricing so it’s not out of anybody’s realm to come out.”

The original restaurant

Jones purchased the original Alexander’s Cafe in 1987. He had moved his manufacturing company, Metra Electronics, to the area in 1986, and at the time, Jones said there weren’t many businesses open in the downtown. But, he and his wife used to eat at Alexander’s.

When Jones heard the cafe was going to close because the original owner was going to lose his lease, Jones decided to buy it. Together with John Cunningham, whom he brought in as a managing partner, they turned Alexander’s into a nightspot in Ormond Beach.

“I think there was a void and it was a necessary place,” Jones said. “We had some of the best clientele coming in there. We hired a French chef and we started putting out some really good products ... And people responded to it.”

Alexander’s continued its presence in the downtown until 1997. Jones was operating the restaurant on his own by then, and his manufacturing company was starting to expand. The building at 123 W. Granada Blvd. was the only place he owned in the downtown at the time, and Bobby and Meryl Frappier were looking to relocate their restaurant, Frappes Italian Grille. When they approached Jones about renting the business, Jones agreed.

Meryl Frappier continued to run the restaurant after her husband's death in 2018, and in 2022, when she decided to retire, Jones was left wondering what to do with the building once again.

"I got this crazy, wild idea to just resurrect Alexander's again and bring it back," Jones said. 

Meeting Oliva, he said, was "kismet." Jones said they were meant to find each other.

"It was like deja vu and I just liked him right away," Jones said. "... This guy's got amazing, amazing experience in the business. I think I made the right decision and he made the right decision, so I think it's going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

A restaurant with character

Oliva has always loved old buildings. In the past, he worked with Fraunces Tavern in New York City, a restaurant that is famous for being the site where George Washington gave a farewell to his officers after the American Revolution. His first restaurant he worked in as a partner, called the 76, also had a connection to Washington.

So when he saw what Jones had done in the building — the restoration of the building to look more like the original Alexander's with its art deco fixtures and decorations, details that trickle down to the exit signs — he was impressed.

"This has definitely got some character," Oliva said. 

Initially, he was worried about being able to find staff. But a Facebook ad generated about 150 responses in two days. 

Alexander's Prime is located at 123 W. Granada Blvd. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

"I got an excellent staff," Oliva said. " ... I was very impressed with the people that came in."

Oliva said he remembers what Granada Boulevard looked like 25 years ago. His kids used to summer with his mom in Lake Mary, and when he had some time off and visited, they'd often drive to the area to go to the beach.

"It was a disaster," Oliva said. "You didn't notice anything. You just wanted to get off the street and get over the bridge. [Jones] brought all this back to life, and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Jones is not a restauranteur. He said he calls himself a "restaurantee."

"Meaning that I'll go in and I'll build the stage," Jones said. "I'll build the the theater, but then I want to find somebody that can run it, appreciate it and make it work."

There's better ways to make money than restoring buildings in the downtown, Jones said, but they're not as much fun or rewarding.

"Nothing makes me happier than when I see customers walk in a place like that and they smile at the artwork, they enjoy what they're eating, the atmosphere," Jones said. "That's my reward."


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