Peek inside Bistro Aix as it prepares to reopen

Popular San Marco restaurant sustained extensive damage in Hurricane Irma

By Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter, Dawn Jorgenson - Graham Media Group

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After four months working to repair damage from Hurricane Irma, the popular San Marco restaurant Bistro Aix is set to reopen next Thursday.

The storm showed no mercy, drowning the interior of the old, brittle building with close to 4 feet of water. 

"I was surprised on how much it flooded," general manager Steve Serokee said in September. "This area floods in San Marco, but not to the extent it flooded this time. We prepared for it -- the flooding. We removed all the items about 2 feet off the ground to make sure it wouldn't get wet. But 3½ to 4 feet (of water) -- that's a lot of work."

The restaurant's co-owners were among the first to see the damage and have overseen the restorations.

"It was pretty bad all around," Fraser Burns said. "Almost everything in the building ... equipment, entire furnishings to the electricity were damaged completely."

"To pull everything out and start cutting away drywall and looking at all the furnishings, it was a real gut-wrenching thing to witness," said Jacques Klempf.

While some other nearby businesses were able to reopen within two months of the flooding, Bistro Aix remained closed for repairs -- until now.

With restoration almost complete, excitement is building for guests to return to an updated, brighter and more modern space. 

News4Jax got a sneak peak at the renovations Friday.

The French menu, the iconic chairs and everything that made Bistro Aix is all there, but you'll notice drywall replaced with chic tiles and sleek modern lights. The floors are freshly painted, but the goal over time is to get some wear and tear to get that rustic look.

Bar X has undergone some of the biggest changes. The room is lighters and booths have been replaced with marble tables. Lights illuminate the Onyx Bar, where a happy-hour menu now awaits.

The restaurant will have a mix of new and old hires. Chances are your favorite waiter/waitress will be back. The menu will include new options like whole trout and scallops and favorites like the blue cheese chips.

"They're a very important restaurant to those of us who live here in San Marco and we're eager to have them back open," San Marco resident Bonnie Arnold said.

From wedding proposal to first dates and anniversaries, the upscale restaurant is a place that holds a lot of memories for many in Jacksonville. The restaurant's goal is for that tradition to continue.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to our design team, construction partners and Bistro Aix team members for their dedication," Burns said.

Ahead of next week's reopening -- in time for Valentine's Day -- the restaurant is taking reservations online.

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