Peo­ple ob­serve a minute of si­lence on Mon­day out­side the La Belle Equipe Café des Anges: A liv­ing me­mo­rial to its vic­tims Paris

Staff reg­u­larly traded back and forth with La Belle Equipe

Metro Canada (Winnipeg) - - METRO NEWS - Marco Chown Oved in PARiS TorsTar NeWs ser­vice

in Paris.

A short walk from the pub­lic mourn­ing in Place de la Republique and the bou­quets at each shoot­ing site is a café that doesn’t ap­pear to have any con­nec­tion to the Novem­ber 13th ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

But if you go past the round ta­bles lined up along the side­walk and through the blue French doors on the cor­ner, it be­comes clear the Café des Anges is a liv­ing me­mo­rial to its vic­tims.

Five cur­rent and for­mer employees as well as six reg­u­lar cus­tomers were killed at La Belle Equipe, an es­tab­lish­ment so in­ter­twined with this one that they traded staff back and forth.

More than two dozen friends had gath­ered there on the fate­ful evening to cel­e­brate wait­ress Houda Saadi’s 35th birth­day. They were sit­ting on the ter­race and bore the brunt of the as­sault when it came. Many are still in hos­pi­tal. Eleven didn’t make it.

Among the dead are Hodda and her older sis­ter Hamila, 36, bar­tender Lacrim­ioava (Lacri) Pop and her part­ner Ciprian Cal­ciu, wait­ress Michelli Gil Jaimez, 27, for­mer bar­tender Guil­laume Le Dramp, 33, and reg­u­lars Ludovic Boum­bas, René Bi­chon and Hy­acinthe Koma.

“Just think­ing about it brings back im­ages, very graphic im­ages,” said Café des Anges’s man­ager Vir­gile Grun­berg.

One in­vi­tee showed up late and found po­lice tape and car­nage where the party was sup­posed to be. A pair of broth­ers dragged their dy­ing sis­ters from the chaos and des­per­ately per­formed CPR as they waited for help to ar­rive.

I spent most of the day with Grun­berg and his staff and watched them put on a brave face as the lunchtime rush ar­rived. They poured cof­fee, cleared ta­bles and hauled cases of wine up from the base­ment, all while stop­ping to chat with those who came by to pay their re­spects, and greet­ing reg­u­lars with a hug in­stead of the cus­tom­ary bisous.

“We are all very close, the staff, the cus­tomers,” Grun­berg said. “This is a neigh­bour­hood café. Peo­ple come ev­ery­day and they tend to spend a lot of time here. We’re all part of each other’s lives.”

Axel, a bar­tender, put it more suc­cinctly: “we’re fam­ily.”

We have al­ways had peo­ple that come from every­where, from ev­ery coun­try, ev­ery re­li­gion. Chris­tians, Mus­lims, Ortho­dox, ev­ery­one. Café des Anges man­ager Vir­gile Grun­berg


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