This Restaurant Will Hand Back Its Michelin Star: Here's Why
Welsh restaurant The Checkers was given its first Michelin star back in 2000, and now, 18 years later, it's handing that award back. Owners Stéphane Borie, Sarah Francis and Kathryn Francis made the decision ahead of a major pivot for The Checkers—as the Shropshire Star reports, Borie plans to step back and return to his private chef roots (although he'll be at to the venue from time to time for pop-up dinners and special events), while the Francis sisters will relaunch The Checkers as Checkers Pantry. The reimagined restaurant, which is set to debut this November, will be open for breakfast and lunch, with drinks and cakes throughout the day.
“Of course it is tinged with sadness," Sarah Francis said in a statement. "But it is also exciting as we open The Checkers to a wider audience while staying true to what we all love—truly delicious food, a relaxing and friendly atmosphere in one of the most beautiful towns on the border." Checkers restaurant reservations are being taken through October 27, when Chef Borie will run his last dinner service.
The venue is the latest in a list of restaurants that have voluntarily shed their Michelin stars. Last September, French chef Sébastien Bras of Le Suquet asked to be stripped of the three Michelin Stars he's held since 1999 because he no longer wanted the pressure of having to retain them. And one month later, Andre Chiang returned the two stars he earned at Restaurant Andre (and shut the acclaimed venue down), saying that, for the past 30 years of his career, he's been looking for "that unrealistic moment of perfection" that he thought he could reach through professional accolades.
Last year, chef Joël Robuchon, who owns more Michelin Stars than anyone, told us that "one star gets you about 20 percent more business, two stars get you 40 percent more, and three stars will get you 100 percent more business." But scoring that first star often leads to increased spending on services and décor, just to keep up with those perceived standards.
While the team at The Checkers didn't explicitly state that they're returning their star to alleviate the pressure of keeping it, or to free up room for culinary experimentation, it sounds like they're looking forward to a slightly slower pace. "The change will be friendlier for our families too," Sarah Francis said. "All of our children are in school from September, it is the perfect opportunity for us to make a commitment to daytime trade.”