The business behind Michelin stars

Gordon Ramsay gave out the new Michelin Stars for 2019Image copyright Michelin
Image caption Gordon Ramsay gave out the new Michelin Stars for 2019

Michelin is probably best known as the company that bestows stars on restaurants to signify their excellence.

Gordon Ramsay, awarding the Michelin stars for UK & Ireland 2019, described the event last week as the “Oscars of the restaurant industry”.

Receiving a star isn’t only an industry accolade – it can also be a boost to the business.

The late Joël Robuchon, the world’s most Michelin star-decorated chef, claimed the stars were financially transformative.

“With one Michelin star, you get about 20% more business. Two stars, you do about 40% more business, and with three stars, you’ll do about 100% more business,” he told Food & Wine magazine last year.

But according to the founders of Ellory in east London, their mark-up on receiving a first star was even higher.

“Business went up by over a third,” says Ed Thaw, who received the award just 11 months after opening.

And yet, in a testament to how tough the restaurant industry can be, Ellory closed after only two and half years – despite having retained the star a year later.

The restaurant only turned a profit in three months – and those were “random” months.

Image copyright Ed Thaw
Image caption Ed Thaw outside his newly Michelin-starred restaurant, Leroy

Ed says it isn’t enough just to be serving great food, the location is also key.

“[At Ellory], we were opposite a drug rehab centre and workman’s cafe.”

With business partner Jack Lewens, he has now set up Leroy in Shoreditch.

The trick, he says, is to stay true to what you enjoy rather than straining for recognition.

It’s not about “getting a pinky finger out and explaining the food”.

Perhaps backing up Ed’s approach, Leroy received its own star at the 2019 awards.

Gordon Ramsay, holder of three stars for his self-titled restaurant in Chelsea, gave out the 2019 awards at a closely choreographed ceremony in the BFI Imax in London – and with them, his top piece of advice.

One first-time star recipient, Paul Foster, agrees.

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