I can't begin to wrap my head around today. I awoke to a small earthquake. Never great. I walked along the beach and watched the grey clouds roll in and take over. Then I went to my beloved French Market Cafe to get my coffee, where I found it to be closed, with a sign saying "Closed for Emergency" scribbled on a piece of paper and taped to the door.
I kept walking then to head over to Abbot Kinney as I still needed coffee. Badly. Walking toward me was Christophe, our favorite French Market waiter. As I smiled and wished him a Happy New Year, I could immediately tell something was wrong. I asked and he could barely speak, until he managed to get out, "Patrice is dead."
Patrice Martinez, the gregarious and kind owner of the French Market Cafe, who has brightened my day for years and years.
I still have chills. I can't bear to imagine how Patrice's wife, Agnes, is feeling. Theirs was a true and obvious love, full of fun and adventure. Adventure is what Patrice was up to in Chile on a motorcycle trip with his best friend. There was a fatal accident on the bike, when Patrice was hit by an oncoming car. The only comfort you can think of is that he was doing what he loved with his best friend.
I will remember him always exactly as he is pictured above, which is how he looked most of the time. Always a kind word, always a little teasing, always the ultimate host of the delightful neighborhood oasis that he and Agnes created together.
My favorite thing Patrice ever said to me was one day when I met a friend for coffee in the morning at The French (as we call it) ... which became lunch ... which became one, two, then three bottles of daytime champagne with other regulars on the patio. I went inside to get something and bumped into Patrice and said, "Patrice, my morning coffee has become three bottles of champagne!" To which he replied, "C'est bon, that is very french!" We laughed together ... and I stayed until it was dark out.
Please keep Agnes and all the French Market family in your thoughts and kindnesses. And man ... remember to LOVE your life every moment that you have it. It can be gone oh, so quickly.
Rest In Peace, Patrice. You will be forever missed.
*There will be a viewing for Patrice this Friday, the 21st.
Gates Kingsley Murphy Funeral Home
1925 Arizona Ave. Santa Monica