“Now we get back to life, we could not wait to reopen,” said an emotional Kirita Gallois one of the three owners of Le Petit Cambodge which reopened on Monday.
The restaurant is located opposite the Carillon bar in the trendy Canal Saint Martin area of Paris’s hip 10th arrondissement.
On November 13th gunmen unleashed a volley of machine gunfire into crowds enjoying a night out at both establishments, killing 15 people. Three of the victims are believed to have died in Le Petit Cambodge.
(The press were there to see the restaurant reopen. Photo: AFP)
The restaurant owners and their team of 17 people have waited four months, mostly out of the limelight, to be able to get back to work.
In a testament to the defiance and courage of those who witnessed the atrocity that night, all of the 17 members of staff are back.
“Everybody wanted to come back,” said Gallois. “This is a very special day. Since November 13th it has been a bit complicated, but we are happy to be here.”
(The flowers around Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon are gone as normal life returns. AFP)
The restaurant has been completely redone to try to erase some of the physical and psychological scars from that night.
A little mosaic has been added to the back of the restaurant, which acts as a memory of the attacks.
“It represents the stars for those who survived,” said Gallois.
A return to normal may still take some time, although the restaurant was reportedly full within one hour on Monday. Before the attacks Le Petit Cambodge was regularly packed and people would stand outside to queue for a seats.
But if the Carillon over the road is anything to go by, it may take a while before all of the old customers come flooding back.
While the Carillon, which opened in January, was packed out on its opening night, the owners have admitted that business is not what it was before the attacks, when the terrace outside was standing room only.
(This was the scene in the days after the Paris terror attacks. Photo: AFP)
But with spring in the air, there is hope that Le Petit Cambodge and the Carillon will prove a magnet for Parisian socialites once again.
Café Bonne Biere, le Comptoir Voltaire and Casa Nostra have all reopened since the attacks.
The only bar targeted by the terrace gunmen that remains closed is La Belle Equipe on Rue de Charonne, where 19 people lost their lives. No date has been given for the reopening, but a notice on Facebook says “it will open one morning in 2016 at 8am as usual.”