Still Fresh After all These Years
I was running late on a Wednesday night, desperate to buy flowers for my wedding anniversary. Someone told me where to find an outdoor stand; I sped down Alcazar toward Le Jeune but jammed on my breaks when I passed a store called Belle Fleur. It was after closing time but the door was still open. Inside it was densely packed with bouquets, blooms, vases and cascades of flowers, heavy with a delicious aroma.
Owner Mario Fernandez – along with his Australian Shephard Choco – greeted me. He was not perturbed that had I burst in after closing. He was ready to save me. He’d been working on some floral arrangements in the back, but quickly put together a colorful bouquet for me – allowing me to join the 40 percent of Americans who, according to researchers, say florists have helped them in a relationship.
Belle Fleur has now been opened for 20 years. After moving to Miami from Nebraska when he was 12, Fernandez (right) got into the floral design business “at the bottom” by making deliveries or a woman at church who owned a flower shop. He worked at several other shops before opening his own on Alcazar Ave. “It’s the center of Miami and it’s the nicest part of Miami,” Fernandez says on why he chose the Gables. It is also a city with disposable incomes, which means he works long hours because the shop is always booked. No matter, he says. “I just love flowers, this is playing for me,” he says.