No more Michelin restaurants as The Checkers hands back its star

The region’s final Michelin restaurant has handed back its star – bringing to an end a run of 18 successive years in the food industry’s most important guide.

The Checkers' team
The Checkers' team

The Checkers, at Montgomery, has decided it no longer wishes to feature in the guide because it is changing the direction of its business.

Ahead of publication of the Michelin Guide on October 1, venue owners Stéphane Borie, Sarah Francis and Kathryn Francis have taken the decision to hand back their star.

Mr Borie plans to enjoy greater creative freedom as he expands his culinary repertoire for private clients across the UK and Europe.

He will remain firmly rooted at the family home in Montgomery and will reappear at The Checkers on an ad-hoc basis to create ‘pop up’ dinners and other bespoke events.

Ms Francis, who is Mr Borie’s partner, is going to go back to the kitchen now that her and Stéphane’s children are all in school.

She and her sister, Ms Francis, will relaunch The Checkers restaurant as Checkers Pantry. It will open for breakfast and lunch with drinks and cakes throughout the day.

The Francis sisters will also continue The Checkers’ luxury bed and breakfast accommodation, encouraging new visitors to Montgomery.

Ms Francis said: “Of course it is tinged with sadness - we have treasured our star for seven years, it is the ultimate benchmark of our trade. To say we are in effect giving it back is huge.

“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.

“The change will be friendlier for our families too – all of our children are in school from September, it is the perfect opportunity for us to make a commitment to daytime trade.”

Mr Borie is also looking forward to new challenges, having enjoyed the freedom and variety of a private chef earlier in his career.

He said: “I have loved our time at The Checkers. Our business is unrecognisable from the start of our journey just over 10 years ago at The Herbert Arms.

“I feel immensely proud of what we have achieved and see this very much as our next step. Sarah is a superb chef and I have every faith in our team on this new adventure. And I will look forward to returning for pop-up dinners throughout the year.”


Checkers Pantry will open in mid-November. Checkers restaurant reservations are being taken throughout September and October to give diners a final chance to experience a Michelin star tasting menu in Montgomery and Mr Borie’s last evening service will be Saturday 27th October 2018.

The decision by The Checkers to hand back its star ends a run for Shropshire and Mid-Wales of 18 consecutive years in the Michelin Guide.

Ludlow became the most celebrated town in Britain in 2000 when it earned three Michelin stars and a Michelin Bib Gourmand. It later went on to secure additional honours as chef Claude Bosi won a double star, while new talent Will Holland also earned one too. Later, The Green Café, at Dinham Weir, won a Michelin Bib Gourmand.

However, the chefs who won those accolades gradually moved out, leaving the town with no Michelin ratings. The Checkers was the last outpost for those who wanted to enjoy fine dining at an exceptional standard.

However, that too is now bringing the curtain down on an illustrious seven years, leaving the region with no Michelin stars.

People who want to eat a star-rated dinner must now travel either to North Wales, Birmingham or Cheshire.

The full roll call of Michelin chefs included Claude Bosi at Hibiscus, which won one star in 2000 then a double star soon after. Ludlow’s other Michelin starred restaurants were Mr Underhills, at Dinham; The Merchant House, in Lower Corve Street; and Will Holland, at La Becasse.

The new Michelin Guide is due to land in a couple of weeks and will celebrate the best 170 restaurants in the country, by awarding around 150 single stars, about 20 double stars and a handful of three stars.

Of the former chefs in Ludlow who achieved the honour, the owners of Mr Underhills are now retired; Mr Bosi is cooking in London where he has again achieved two stars; Mr Holland is cooking in Jersey and Shaun Hill, from The Merchant House, has achieved another single star at The Walnut Tree, in Abergavenny.

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