Patrick Robinson
The family of Geoffrey Ly, is working hard to make the New Leaf Bistro stay open and make ends meet. They are from left Raymond Nong, Shi Chen, Angelina and Kelvin.

UPDATE: After the loss of her husband, Shi Chen is struggling to make ends meet; GoFundMe campaign tops $20,000

New Leaf Bistro was his dream and legacy to his wife; Area restaurants kicked in to help

Update March 23
The GoFundMe campaign has topped $20,000 and with the additional help from area restaurants and the prospect of more coming, reaching the $30,000 goal is in sight. Peel and Press, The Westy, Mission, Baked, Noble Barton, and others brought is more than $2200 and there are discussions to have others help now underway.

Update March 14 6:30pm
The campaign to help the family of Geoffrey Ly and the New Leaf Bistro is really picking up steam. Now area restaurants are planning a benefit night donating 10 percent of their proceeds this Wednesday. Here's the complete story.

Update March 11 8pm
The total funds raised now exceed $16,000. That's more than halfway to the campaign's goal of $30,000.

Update 1:00pm March 6
The campaign to support Shi Chen and family has surpassed $11,000 in less than two full days.

Update 8:00pm March 5
The total has risen above $9400 in a single day of fundraising.

Update 12:30pm March 5
After only one day, the GoFundMe campaign to help a struggling mom and her restaurant in the Admiral District of West Seattle has hit $6250 on the way to the $30,000 goal. Shi Qiu Chen lost her husband and partner in the New Leaf Bistro in late January and has been faced with reduced credit limits and very high funeral expenses. A single mom now, she needs help to stay afloat. The generosity of the people in West Seattle has proven once again to be inspirational. If you want to help please visit the page and make a donation of any size.

Original Post March 4
Running a business can be a challenge. Now imagine that you are a suddenly single mother of three and you are forced to handle everything on your own.

That’s the situation Shi Qiu Chen found herself in when her husband Geoffrey Ly died in late January at the age of 55. The couple had founded and built by hand the New Leaf Bistro Vietnamese restaurant in the Admiral District in 2015. it was always Geoffrey’s goal to make it a gift to Shi, now it’s his legacy. But it’s also a burden.

The couple, who married in 2003, had previously owned Vietnamese restaurants in Issaquah and the International District in Seattle and were thrilled when the space became available at 2342 California Ave SW. It had once been Petro’s Pizza and later the Royal India Grill. Geoffrey was the chef and was also a highly skilled carpenter who did much of the interior remodel himself. By all accounts Geoffrey was a wonderful man who would do anything for his friends and family. He loved fishing, traveling and spending time with friends. His cooking, based on recipes he developed had earned the New Leaf a good reputation and a large number of good ratings on Yelp. But in December Geoffrey told his family he was not feeling well. His visit to the doctor on the 17th brought some alarming news. He had advanced lung cancer. Never a smoker, the cause was unclear. Geoffrey was advised to get chemo therapy as soon as possible and entered the hospital to get treatment. But the chemo therapy, the strongest dose possible was so overwhelming that doctors wanted to put him into a medically induced coma to buy him some time. Shi was with him, by his side but he didn’t have a chance to speak to his children. She asked him about the restaurant should something happen.”Should I sell it? “No, do not sell it. Keep it open,” he said. By then it was late January, and the treatment, meant to save his life, was in fact shutting his organs down. It became a choice of kidney dialysis or chemo and the cancer was still advancing. The doctors did their best but Geoffrey never woke up from his coma. He died on January 29.

Through her grief Shi still understood she had to take care of her family but now faced running the restaurant herself. Adding to that was the fact that all the accounts for home and the restaurant had been in Geoffrey’s name. Shi had to apply for credit, but without the credit history her husband had, she didn’t qualify for the same level. How do you run a restaurant if you can’t buy enough food? Even worse, the funeral expenses and other costs became a mountain she would have to try and climb essentially on her own.

With the help of her sister Phui Cooper and her eldest son Raymond Nong and prep workers Shi dove into her 17 hour seven day a week tasks.

Up at 6:00am to get her two youngest ready for school, then drop them off and on to the market to do the shopping, Back at the restaurant it is her job to prepare all the sauces, based on the training and recipes she got from Geoffrey. The food at New Leaf is all prepared from scratch, no mixes or prepared foods. That takes time, energy, talent and knowledge. Then back to school for the kids and back to the restaurant to get ready for dinner. Even on Monday, when the restaurant is closed there’s a lot of work to do.

But now, facing the world as a single mom, the business and family are in jeopardy. Her friends have rallied around her and those customers who know have been supportive too. But it’s not quite enough. So a GoFundMe page has been set up. They are seeking donations of any size with a goal of $30,000 to help the family pay their debts, and keep the restaurant going. Her sister Phui said of Shi’s struggle, “She calls out to Geoffrey at desperate times and when she feels like all odds are against her, she does feel that he answers. I am comforted that she feels that way. Then, she's not standing alone. He’s with her. I love her.”

Angelina, 10 and Kelvin, 8 were asked by their mom to write about their memories of their father. Angelina wrote “The best memories I had of my dad were… The time when we went traveling was a very fun time. My dad taught me how to fish, pitch a tent, make a fire, cure sea urchin strings, and make dumplings. If my dad is watching I want him to see me succeed in school.”

Kelvin wrote, “My happiest memory is when we went to Hawaii. I learned how to body board on a big wave. If my dad was still here he would teach me how to cook.” Angelina just recently, with her birthday a few months away, asked, in lieu of a birthday party, asked if she could please just go visit her dad at his gravesite.

Shi said, “Now they look in the mirror every day and say, “Oh mom, look at me! I’m almost as tall as you! I wish my Daddy could see we are growing up.”

To help the family and business you can of course eat there or order to go at 206.938.3681. They are open every day except Monday at 11am until 9:30pm and you can contribute to the GoFundMe campaign set up by friend Suzanne Krom, too.

Here’s the link:

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