Many South Philadelphians know the Artisan Boulangerie as the perfect spot to grab a bite on their morning commute.
It’s a place to grab a tasty French baguette or a delicious mushroom and spinach croissant, but it’s also a great location to share a warm smile and a friendly conversation with Cambodian owners Andre Chin and Amanda Eap.
Customers and friends were saddened to see the shop closed recently as the couple is battling health issues. Amanda has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has begun treatment. Andre recently relapsed with prostate cancer, which is now metastatic and his prognosis is uncertain.
South Philly isn’t letting them fight alone.
A GoFundMe was started by customer and friend Daniel Weber, who says the couple has become a fixture in the area since it first started serving pastries in 2001 on 12th Street and eventually moved to its current location at 1218 Mifflin St. in the East Passyunk neighborhood.
“I used to work at Methodist Hospital as a nurse so I would go in there in the mornings,” Weber said. “They are just the friendliest people and they really care about their customers and their customers’ families, on top of making the most delicious food. They’ve just always given love to everybody.”
Weber started the GoFundMe and South Philly, as well as further destinations, responded in a big way. In just one day, more than $26,000 was raised. By the 48-hour mark, it had ballooned to $84,000. The money is greatly needed to offset medical bills and fund the bakery while the couple is unable to work. Dozens of messages began appearing on the site, wishing the couple well while sharing memories about the bakery.
“We are not from the neighborhood but always felt a neighborly warmth from Andre & Amanda when we made the trip downtown. So this is sad to hear. Lots of positive thoughts for them and hope they conquer these challenges soon,” one message said.
Others sent messages from afar.
“A trip to Artisan was my weekend staple when I lived in South Philly,” one customer wrote. “Any bad mood, any bad day, any bad anything could be solved with an almond croissant and a bahn mi. This family is the absolute sweetest and my first stop every trip home. I’m so sorry for the struggles being endured right now.”
Weber downplayed his role in getting the fundraiser started
“It’s all about them,” Weber said. “I just pushed the car and everyone else is driving it and rolling it down the hill. I only gave a small push.”
It brought attention to thousands of people who love the bakery and the people who run it. By Friday, more than 1,800 people had made some type of monetary donation, proving the love for Artisan Boulangerie spreads far and wide.
“People are just donating what they can,” Weber said. “We don’t need a thousand-dollar donation from anyone. A couple bucks here and there for love and support makes all the difference.”