Memories of Sylvie

There are no words to share with any of you tonight that would sum up the lovely woman who called me “friend” for more than a decade. We had many discussions, we laughed and she tried to get me to dance at one of her nighttime music fests. I cannot give this woman enough credit, she was an inspiration to me, and one of the people who talked me into going solo to Paris in 2009. I can only wish that I could have been a light for Sylvie in her supreme darkest hour.

Sylvie Le Mer, a Brittany, France native, was a profoundly spirited and loving woman, a talented and head strong businesswoman, she was sole owner of Ti Couz Crepery in San Francisco for 19 years, (at 16th and Valencia). Whatever darkness she faced, she chose to find the light at the end of a very painful tunnel and transition to a better horizon in her own way the evening of October 24, 2020. My heart is broken, but I accept Sylvie’s transition and I will hold her in my heart always.

Thank you for introducing me to the many great people who worked at or visited Ti Couz! Rest in splendid peace, my dear.

Sylvie Le Mer photos courtesy of , Fatim Vet

Much To Remember – Sylvie Le Mer

2002 was a tough year for me. My mother was diagnosed with Dementia and Parkinson’s and I found a cute 1-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment, but had a hard time moving in – owners/landlords did not want to rent to me. But, I persevered and lived at the The Alturas for 17 years, more than proving myself a worthy tenant.

The Alturas is a cozy 1910 Edwardian at 3116 16th Street located in the Mission district of my hometown of San Francisco, Ca. It sits above what is now Giordano Brothers and a current corner grocery store that was once a Wells Fargo bank. ( The design of the ceiling at the current corner store is the same in all Wells Fargo banks.)  

I lived above Ti Couz Crepery long after it was considered one of the hottest places in the Mission.  You could not get into the place back in the day, lines were around the block.  By the 2000s, Ti Couz and many other sole proprietorships and “moms and pops” businesses were suffering financially, times were changing.

May, 2007, four years before Sylvie was forced to surrender her business, I held a staged reading of a book of poetry that I wrote about my mother, Courage, Strength, Faith, at Intersection for the Arts Theatre which was around the corner from where I lived. When I first noticed Sylvie, I rarely spoke to her, she was always bustling and busy with her business. When we did speak she was very sweet.  Sylvie was nice and unpretentious. I mentioned about my reading. 

“Oh, you’re a writer!”

“Well, I call myself a writer. I majored in Psychology.”

“Well, if you know people then you know we love to celebrate. You will need bottles of bubbly for your event.”  Sylvie said with a bright smile.

“Oh.  Well, how much will that be?”  I sheepishly asked.  I was working for the city at the time and was my mother’s power of Attorney.  Every dime I had, including mom’s retirement money went into her private assisted living care.

“For you, my Lorrie, nothing, nothing!  You are doing something wonderful for your dear mother and you will need to have bubbly!” 

Sylvie sang her words.  I will never forget how she acted like my event was the cure all to end all, like I was Toni Morrison having a soiree and Sylvie was the caterer. And to make it even more generous, one of Sylvie’s
long-term staff, Miguel Flores, whom I had come to know as a very kind, humorous man, helped wheel the liquor around the corner to the theater.  Sylvie evoked a family-type atmosphere at Ti Couz and with me she gave me a reason to visit Ti Couz, I felt like belonged there anytime I wanted to be. 

In 2010 when I was laid off as administrator for the Health Dept. Sylvie sat with me.  She did not speak, but she let me know she was there.  Another time Sylvie had a pop-up of various neighborhood crafts vendors to sell their wares, I was one of them, I have knitted since I was a child.

I am sure mine will not be the only story to share about Sylvie Le Mer, but I am grateful to those of you who are reading my story.  As for mental health “issues,” I will not leave suicide prevention information, I cannot tell anyone in pain to “reach out,” when I know life is not always that simple.  All I can state here is that when someone leaves you much to remember, hold those memories dear and let them flourish as you grow older.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Lorrie Denise