The reported foreclosure sale of 1523 Walnut St., former home of Georges Perrier's iconic Le Bec Fin restaurant, "is such a sad story," says Perrier's creditor, Betsy Cohen, founder of Bancorp Bank. The bank had accepted the property as collateral on its loan to open its fancy Table 31 restaurant in 2007 on the street floor at Comcast Corp.'s towering headquarters. The restaurant closed in 2013. The bank foreclosed on the Le Bec Fin property after Table 31 failed and didn't make payments.
"He's such a talented guy," says Cohen, of Perrier. The new tenant, Avance, "is paying rent," but even with expected foreclosure proceeds Bancorp had to write off part of the loan in early 2013. "It's a pity. He's such a talented guy. He contributed so very much to the momentum of fine dining in Philadelphia. He has made a tremendous contribution. We should all recognize that."
The property guarantee on a restaurant loan is the kind of financing Cohen helped pioneer in Philadelphia as head of the former Jefferson Bank during Center City's 1980s restaurant renaissance. "In the 40 years we've been doing this, we have lost very little money on restaurants," she told me.