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Requiem for Le Bec Fin: 'Nothing lasts forever'

"Nothing lasts forever," said founder Georges Perrier.

Requiem for Le Bec Fin: 'Nothing lasts forever'

Le Bec Fin dining room, 2:30 p.m., May 16, 2013
Le Bec Fin dining room, 2:30 p.m., May 16, 2013 MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com

The news spread quickly yesterday about the impending demise of Le Bec Fin, which will close in a month after four decades.

And the reaction...

"Nothing lasts forever," said founder Georges Perrier, who stepped out of the Walnut Street landmark more than a year ago, ushering in an attempt by different management to renovate and rehabilitate it. "Everything has changed in this industry. You have to give the people what they want. I'm sure that 20, 30 years from now, people will want it as it once was. The wheels turn. It was a very smart move, in my opinion," he said of the decision to close and rebrand it as an American restaurant under chef Justin Bogle.

From Marc Vetri of Vetri Family: "Le Bec Fin closed when Georges left, not today. Le Bec was Georges. It's as simple as that."

From Pierre Calmels, chef-owner of Bibou and Le Bec Fin's former chef: "LBF and chef Perrier brought us to Philly in 2001. Without this extraordinary experience, Bibou would not exist. Nor many Philly chefs! It's a shame to lose such a grande dame ... C'est la vie!!

From Chip Roman, chef-owner of Blackfish, Mica and Ela and a former LBF chef: "I''m a little lost for words. It was an honor to work at Le Bec with so many talented people.  It's the end of an era.  I wish the new chef and owners the best of luck.  I hope someone will fill George Perrier's shoes and keep moving our city and nation forward."

From Kevin Sbraga, chef-owner of Sbraga and a longtime Perrier associate: "All great food cities have one restaurant that sets the standard. That is what Le Bec Fin did for Philadelphia. Some of the country's most talented chefs have passed through those doors. Philadelphia's culinary reputation would not exist without Georges Perrier and his LBF. But as the saying goes, all great things must come to end. The closing of LBF is an end of era but the legacy with continue forever. Personally I can't wait to see how the food scene continues to evolve."

From Iron Chef Jose Garces: "Le Bec-Fin will always be remembered as the restaurant that brought fine dining to Philadelphia. It was a special place that will be missed here."

From former Inquirer columnist Rick Nichols (who, God bless him, is never at a loss for words): "A good redemption story can win back even the most skeptical diner. But the 'new' Le Bec-Fin wasn't so much set on redeeming itself as reliving past glories; resting on somewhat ossified laurels. Its hits of yesteryear were the stuff of deserved legend. But in its latest edition, Le Bec no longer had the field to itself. The entire dining scene in the city had moved on, and up, and in many cases surpassed the gold standard Le Bec had set in a less competitive market decades ago. It's a shame that neither Georges Perrier or his successor could fully absorb just how profoundly the menu, the dining-room stylistics, and the eating habits of 21st century Philadelphia had changed. You have to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. The architects of Le Bec's second act were clueless on that front. And sadly, instead of going out on top -- where it deservedly reigned for decades -- it suffered that most ignominious of endings: It threw a party and nobody came. It had worn out its welcome. The emperor, once so resplendent, no longer had clothes."

Michael Klein Philly.com
About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at mklein@philly.com.

Michael Klein Philly.com
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