New West rallies for family of popular crepe maker
New Westminster is rallying to support the wife and young son of popular crepe maker Alain Cocu.
Cocu, who started Crepes des Amis at the River Market in 2011 with his wife Li Lee Soon, passed away from a brain tumour on Aug. 25.
A scholarship fund for their son, Sean, has been started on the crowd funding website indiegogo.com. As of Tuesday it's already surpassed its fundraising goal of $1,000. With more than 50 days to go in the campaign, funders have donated $1,855. Individual donations ranged from $20 to $500.
Cocu and Soon were amongst the first tenants to take the leap of faith in the newly-renovated and reimagined River Market. In fact, construction was still going on in some of the interior space as they prepared to open their crepe stand in April, 2011.
Salim Hassan, the River Market's marketing manager, said Cocu and his wife were a big part of the market's new vibe.
"Everybody in the community knew Alain quite well," said Hassan. "His smile was very captivating."
He said the response to the fundraising effort for Sean's education has been "heartwarming."
"It's a great way to show Li Lee that she's not alone," said Hassan. "Everybody is willing to help."
Cocu, who grew up in the Port d'Italie area of Paris, had fond memories of crepe stands at the local street markets, and making crepes in school for La Chandeleur, or Crepe Day, every Feb. 2.
"It's like a staple that's healthier than fast food," Cocu told the NewsLeader is a previous interview.
Crepes even bring good luck. There's a French superstition that leaving a crepe tucked into the top corner of a kitchen cupboard ensures good fortune for the coming year.
News of Cocu's passing spread across social media.
"So sad," said former New Westminster resident Sheila Keenan on Twitter.
"Always such a happy smiling guy with serious crepe skill," said another fan.
"He was a great guy," said architect Eric Pattison, whose offices are in the River Market.
"We will miss Alain's energy, humour and kindness," said Robyn Murrell of Zhoosh Fitness Garage on her Facebook page.
Hassan said while it's still too soon to tell if Cocu's wife will continue to operate the creperie, the River Market is trying to be a flexible landlord to allow her the time to plan her next step.
To donate to the Alain Cocu Memorial Fund for Education go to www.indiegogo.com