Powys restaurant The Checkers returns Michelin star

The CheckersImage source, Jeremy Bolwell/Geograph
Image caption,
The Checkers has held a Michelin star since 2011

The owners of a Michelin-star restaurant have taken the unusual step of handing back their coveted award.

Recognition in the famous guide is regarded as the pinnacle for any restaurant in the world.

Yet ahead of publication of the 2019 edition on October 1, the owners of The Checkers in Montgomery, Powys, say they no longer wish to feature in the guide.

Stephane Borie, Sarah Francis and Kathryn Francis say they are "putting family first".

Image source, The Checkers
Image caption,
Stephane Borie and Sarah and Kathryn Francis first won the accolade within months of opening their new restaurant

Sarah and her partner Stephane Borie have three young children, while her sister Kathryn is also a mother of two.

"I don't know how we've done it for all these years, juggling the kids with working split shifts and late hours," said Ms Francis.

"It has been a joy to have the star and the most amazing news when we got it. It was great for trade and brilliant for the town.

Image source, The Checkers
Image caption,
The trio cater for up to 40 diners, using produce from local farms in Powys and Shropshire.

"But more for us, it's about taking the business in a new direction and putting our family first.

"It means we can work in the day and have our evenings to ourselves."

Mr Borie is set to expand his culinary portfolio for private clients across Europe though he will make guest appearances at the family home in Montgomery.

Sarah and Kathryn Francis will re-launch the restaurant in November as Checker Pantry, open for breakfast and lunch as well as the luxury bed and breakfast accommodation.

However it brings an end to a seven-year run with the famous award since The Checkers first appeared in the guide in 2011.

"It was an emotional decision because we have absolutely treasured our star," said Ms Francis.

Image source, The Checkers
Image caption,
The Checkers was one of seven Welsh restaurants included in the 2018 guide

"We've loved getting it, loved keeping it and always nervous every year as to whether we were going to be in the guide. So to give it back was a big decision but ultimately the right one."

Last year, top French restaurant Le Suquet shocked the world when it withdrew from the guide's listings, having held a three-star rating for 18 years.

Chef Sebastien Bras said he no longer wanted to cook under the "huge pressure" of being judged by its inspectors.

It was said to be the first time Michelin had ever allowed a restaurant to bow out.

In September, celebrity chef Marco Pierre White was reported to have refused Michelin Guide inspectors permission to visit his latest restaurant in Singapore.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The entrants of the 2019 guide will be announced on 1 October.

Restaurateur, food writer and former AA food guide editor Simon Wright said the Michelin star reflected a "very particular" style of dining.

"Decisions such as [by The Checkers] are often a reflection of the enormous pressure and additional expectation that comes with a Michelin star," he said.

"People can have pre-conceived ideas which are sometimes not matched by the style of the restaurants."

The new list of entrants to Michelin Guide is due to be announced next month and will celebrate the 170 best restaurants in the country.