a plate of food on a table
Atelje, Ljubljana

If there’s anything I’ve missed during lockdown, it’s been the buzz of a good ole’ restaurant, and yes, someone else’s cooking too. When you’re letting someone else do the cooking, it’s hard to find a higher standard than a Michelin star, or better yet, three Michelin starred restaurant.

Despite being one of the hardest hit industries on the planet, an impressive 80% of the world’s Michelin Star holding restaurants are back open, and the when and where is fascinating.

80% Of Michelin Star Restaurants Are Open

Japan alone has held as many Michelin Stars as the rest of the world’s top ten in recent years, and the country never entered a formal lockdown, leaving fine dining largely in tact, albeit slightly modified. Greater Europe, the next most Michelin starred region in the world has also largely reopened in recent months.

These stories propel the improbable, but true story that 80% of all global Michelin starred restaurants are back open, despite brutal industry conditions due to covid-19.

a close-up of food on a plate

According to the Michelin Guide, the United States is the last region dragging numbers down, with just 8% of Michelin starred restaurants in the USA open, compared to over 75% in areas such as Spain, France and Italy. Those USA numbers were trending up to 12%, until California, a heavy Michelin hub, reintroduced indoor dining restrictions.

Recently lifted restrictions on UK dining have offered the greatest jump in the overall count, going from figures near zero to circa 50% back open. Thailand also reopened a number of Michelin starred spots, furthering the impressive reboot.

a group of tall buildings

According to Eater, New York fine dining is quickly moving to outdoor seating concepts, with an unprecedented 34 Michelin starred restaurants, including multi starred Daniel Boloud classic, “Daniel” offering sidewalk seats. Sadly, it’s still not been enough to save the scene, with icons including Uncle Boons permanent closing.

Covid-19 has presented interesting times for the fine dining scene, but not all of them bad. With suppliers to keep in business, many restaurants pivoted to selling ingredient boxes, or Michelin starred takeaway meals.

Despite global financial impacts, the typical Michelin Star meal experience actually bodes well in uncertain covid-19 times, with typically greater distance between tables, rigorous cleaning standards and often greater attention to food sourcing. For many, the premium – and the white glove service – are worth it, after months of cooking from home.

There’s just something about the buzz of a great restaurant, and a glass of welcome champagne may have something to do with it.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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