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Le Bec-Fin sign to live on

In the middle of the night, the letters on the former restaurant's marquee were removed.

Late, late last night, the letters spelling "Le Bec-Fin" were removed from the marquee over the now-shuttered restaurant at 1523 Walnut St.

But they will live on.

Not like the restaurant's twin chandeliers, which will hang in someone's house.

The iconic script letters will go up on a wall at Philadelphia's oldest tavern, McGillin's Old Ale House.

The Mullins family - which has a keen appreciation for Philadelphia lore, given that McGillin's opened at 1310 Drury St. when Abe Lincoln was in the White House - bought the letters. Georges Perrier had them fastened to the restaurant's brass-and-white canopy at its opening in 1983.

The Le Bec-Fin letters will join McGillin's wall of fame, near the staircase on the lefthand side of the dining room. The Mullinses' collection of other original signs and logos includes John Wanamaker, J.E. Caldwell, Strawbridge & Clothier, Lit Bros., Gimbels, Woolworth, CoreStates Bank, and Deux Cheminees.

Mary Ellen Spaniak Mullins, who owns McGillin's with her husband, Chris Mullins, is a "Georges Perrier fanatic," said the couple's son, Chris Jr.  Le Bec holds a special place for Chris Jr., 38, as his aunt Patti Spaniak took him there for lunch when he turned 16.

After their removal, each letter is in several pieces. Mullins says they will be mounted in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the space at 1523 Walnut St. is being refashioned into a contemporary American restaurant under chef Justin Bogle.