When legendary French chef Joël Robuchon opened an eponymous restaurant at La Grande Maison, a 19th-century mansion-turned-hotel in Bordeaux, many wondered how soon it would be before it earned the famed chef another round of Michelin stars. Less than two years in — and two Michelin stars later — Robuchon has cut ties with the hotel.
In a statement released Friday (and translated from French), hotel owner and wine tycoon Bernard Magrez appeared to blame the terminated relationship on "a difficult economic environment with a tourism slowdown linked to the 2015 [terrorism] attacks," adding that the restaurant "decided to change course and adapt its formula." That will include devoting part of the space to a more modest (read: less expensive) concept.
The news isn't completely surprising for those that have been following Robuchon's stint at the hotel. Shortly after the restaurant's opening, a group of kitchen staffers alleged mistreatment, claiming they worked 15-hour days with no lunch breaks and were routinely humiliated. One former cook claimed he was forced to drink a pot of overly-salted cooking water by head chef Tomonori Danzaki. According to French news site 20 Minutes, financial losses at the facility have been significant and are estimated to be as much as 2 million euros (or $2.3 million).
In an interview with France Bleu, Denis Franc, a chef at a neighboring restaurant, attributed the money problems to high payroll. Another restaurateur placed the blame squarely on greed, noting that Michelin stars require a lot of investment. Some, though, have argued that it was simply a clash of two powerful personalities that did the partnership in.