On the surface, Warby Parker opening a new location on Walnut Street isn’t huge news. Sure, having the tech-based eyeglasses startup in town brings in more tax revenue, raises the city’s cool factor, and ups our retail game another notch. But it means a whole lot more than that. It’s a sign that Center City’s retail landscape has changed in a big way.
First of all, it’s going into the old Le Bec-Fin space at 1523 Walnut. For years, Le Bec-Fin was the pinnacle of fine dining in Philadelphia led by legendary chef Georges Perrier. But times change, tastes change, and it finally closed in 2013. Chef Justin Bogle tried to resurrect the space as the more modern Avance but that closed after just 10 months. Read more »
This is the best thing that could possibly happen to 1523 Walnut. Or maybe the second-best thing (I once suggested turning the storied former home of Le Bec Fin into the world’s largest Jamba Juice, and still think that would’ve been a fine use for the space). Or, possibly, just one of a thousand best things that could’ve happened.
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Le Bec Fin 2.0 | Mike Persico
With this weekend’s closing of Avance at 1523 Walnut Street, we thought we’d look back at the modern history of this most storied address. Check out our timeline history of the fall from popularity of what was the most famous restaurant address in Philadelphia.
Timeline of 1523 Walnut Street »
Michael Klein has the scoop. One day after we broke the news that Georges Perrier had lost 1523 Walnut Street in a sheriff’s sale earlier this month, the new owners have moved to evict Avance, the building’s current tenant. Read more »
UPDATE 6/12/2014: The new owner of 1523 Walnut Street has moved to evict Avance, the current tenant.
Storied Philadelphia chef Georges Perrier has owned 1523 Walnut Street since 1981. It housed his legendary French restaurant Le Bec-Fin, which closed in June 2013, making way for Avance, Perrier’s tenant. But now, Perrier has lost ownership of the building in a sheriff’s sale.
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Foobooz is friends with this guy named Ronnie Ribant. He’s the man behind Grand Circus Paper & Toy. He makes hand-crafted paper toys and models of iconic Philly-related things, ranging from SEPTA buses to the whole SEPTA bus crash scene at Monk’s. You’ve probably seen his work in stores (Nice Things on EPX) and in restaurants/bars (Memphis Taproom has its own paper model displayed inside). We thought they were pretty cool, so we asked Ronnie if he could make something for us, and only us. He agreed.
And now we have a beautiful model of 1312 Spruce Street, the iconic building that’s been home to two of the most important restaurants in Philadelphia history: Le Bec Fin and Vetri. It’s got the mural on the side, and a hanging sign with Vetri on the front and Le Bec Fin on the back. Head over to the store to check it out.
But that’s not all!
Foobooz reports that the former Le Bec Fin will open later in the year as Avance with chef Justin Bogle. For more, go here.
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The former Le Bec Fin at 1523 Walnut Street will reopen later this year under the name Avance. Two-star Michelin chef Justin Bogle had already been announced as the chef for what promises to be a progressive American restaurant. Bogle received his Michelin stars and other serious accolades while chef at New York’s Gilt.
Bogle, an area native, promises the restaurant will feature locally sourced ingredients prepared in classic and modern techniques. Bogle sees Avance as appealing to diners with a taste for exploration and new experiences. Chef Bogle is “determined to create a Philadelphia experience like no other.”
More on Avance »
Over on the Insider, they’ve got pictures of the iconic Le Bec Fin sign being taken off the building at 1523 Walnut (which, sometime soon, will become a completely different restaurant under the command of chef Justin Bogle). But this isn’t the end for those storied letters. They’re being moved to their new home at McGillin’s Old Ale House, where they’ll join a collection of famous names and logos (Wanamakers, Gimbels, Deux Cheminees) already hung in places of honor.
Honestly, I’m glad that they’ll still be displayed somewhere. It’s a fitting tribute. Head on over to the Insider to check out the full story behind the transfer.
Le Bec Fin Sign To Live On [Insider]
Illustration by Kagen Mcleod
The New York Times’ Frank Bruni was at the final night of Le Bec-Fin at Vetri where he was able to enjoy a heavenly dinner from a bygone era.
Mr. Perrier teamed with Mr. Vetri in the kitchen, and they produced a seven-course tasting menu that wasn’t just a distillation of the best of Le Bec-Fin but a valentine to a lost civilization, the one where Lutèce, La Caravelle and La Côte Basque in Manhattan once flourished.
And what a valentine. From the caviar and the escargots, my dining companion and I proceed to sautéed sweetbreads, a crab galette, a fillet of beef and more, some of it with sauces so rich and intense they’re druggy.
For 3 Nights, a Legend Lives Again [New York Times]