At the end of January, Sergiy and Yana Polyakov relocated Alexa’s Creperie of Hot Springs to a higher-traffic location in the Cornerstone Market Place and refreshed the menu, adding additional European specialties. The 6.5-mile move is minuscule compared to others the couple made in life. Sergiy and Yana were born in the Soviet Union, in what is now Ukraine. After the collapse of the USSR, they each immigrated to Brussels, where they met and married. Here, Sergiy started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher in his uncle’s Italian eatery, and later, Sergiy and Yana opened their own café. Their only child, Alexa, now 13, was born, and they named their café after their “Belgian princess.”
Sergiy’s sister graduated from Ouachita Baptist, stayed in the area and married. The Polyakov’s, who were considering a move to French-speaking Canada, attended the wedding and decided to call Hot Springs home. In 2015, they continued their family business, reopening in Hot Springs.
In their latest location, Alexa’s introduces new foods from Europe each week—variations of dumplings including pelmeni and pierogi—and often sell out of these specials before closing. These offerings incorporate traditional Russian and Ukrainian styles, and ingredients range from ground pork and beef, mashed potatoes, mushrooms and cabbage.
The restaurant continues to boast “crepes for every taste,” featuring breakfast, lunch and sweet crepes. All fruit, vegetables and meat are fresh with no preservatives, never frozen and prepared from scratch each morning. In addition to the pelmeni and a hand-crafted, fresh-ground coffee drink, I sampled “The Sesame,” thinly sliced fresh smoked salmon, cream cheese, lemon, capers and fresh spinach and “The Parisian,” grilled chicken, sautéed mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, fresh spinach and three-cheese filling topped with a homemade sauce from Roma tomatoes, basil and garlic. The flavors were exquisite, and I felt satisfied but not overfull. I was disappointed I did not have room for a sweet crepe and will definitely return to experience one.
Alexa’s, which already enjoyed regular customers driving from Fayetteville and Little Rock, is experiencing a boom in the new location. When I visited, we did not experience a wait to be seated, but every table was full. We did, understandably, experience a short interval before receiving our specialty crepes.
However, Polyakov worked to ease the wait, visiting tables and providing personal service. “Most important in our place is for customers to feel like one big family,” he said. Evidence suggests he is accomplishing this goal.