Brasserie Perrier, one of the landmarks on the Walnut Street restaurant row, closed without notice. New Year's Eve was the finale, as staff learned that night.

The bistro, which opened in January 1997 under Georges Perrier, got a slew of awards, including 4 stars from Mobil.

Its closing had been inevitable. Co-owner Chris Scarduzio, who started as a sous chef and was elevated to partner in March 2004, told me that based on the lease signed in 1996, the partnership was paying about $19 a square foot for rent at 1619 Walnut -- about a third of current local rates. Seeking a better-paying retail tenant, the building owner was negotiating an end to the lease, which was to end in October with a three-year renewal option, Scarduzio said. Business had been OK.

Fresh rumors of an imminent demise circulated early in the week. When I asked Scarduzio on Tuesday afternoon if the shutdown was near, he said he had no date in mind. When asked today about that, Scarduzio backpedaled. The upshot: Word did not get out, and staff did not abandon ship on New Year's Eve. I hear that waiters have been calling other high-end restaurants today to find work. It's not clear how many workers have been affected.

Scarduzio, who seemed quite upset at the closing, said he and Perrier would redouble their efforts at their other jointly owned restaurants, Table 31 in the Comcast Center and Mia's at Caesars in Atlantic City. They're also negotiating a deal for a Le Bec-Fin in Dubai. Perrier owns Georges' in Wayne and Le Bec-Fin in Center City.

More info: A rep for the restaurant says all outstanding Brasserie Perrier gift cards will be honored at Le Bec-Fin , Table 31 and Georges', and all parties booked at Brasserie Perrier in '09 will be transferred to Le Bec-Fin, Table 31 or Georges with the contracted menus and pricing.