Vive Le Bec-Fin!
As champagne corks popped to welcome 2011, chef Georges Perrier announced to patrons that his Walnut Street restaurant would not close after all, thus maintaining a 40-year fine-dining tradition.
"I have received an outpouring of letters from all over the world, begging me not to close," Perrier told me.
He said chef Nicholas Elmi was his new partner. He plans to renovate Le Bar Lyonnais, the downstairs bar, and the mezzanine dining room. He also plans to open a bread bakery in Narberth.
Perrier, 67, had shown a strong case of seller's remorse in the five months that Le Bec-Fin's building had been on the market, hinting to friends occasionally that the restaurant would remain.
It was clear that Perrier did not have his heart in a sale, even as his restaurant's popularity had been unbuttoning in this age of dressed-down dining.
He was asking $3.9 million for the art deco building. The business was priced at $600,000.
He initially denied that he had signed a listing agreement last summer, even after The Inquirer showed him a copy of the prospectus. The next day, Perrier acknowledged to staff that Le Bec-Fin was winding down. At the time, he vowed to open at least two new restaurants elsewhere in the city.
Perrier opened the restaurant at 1523 Walnut St. in 1983 after 13 years on Spruce Street.