A famous Croatian restaurant returns the Michelin star: It brought us only problems and drove away our guests

Photo: Instagram / Draga di Lovrana

The restaurant "Draga di Lovrana" will return the famous Michelin star because the owner says that the prestigious award did not bring them anything good, but that they lost many guests because of it.

For decades, the Michelin star has been the most coveted trophy in gastronomy and is considered a confirmation of the quality of a restaurant. That is why it is believed that the star is a great advertisement for both the restaurant and the chef who earned it.

However, in recent years, more and more chefs and restaurants have decided to return this recognition or refuse it. The latest example also comes from Croatia, where Christian Nikolac, owner of the restaurant "Draga di Lovran" in the hotel of the same name in Lovranska Draga, announced that he has returned the Michelin star he has had since 2019, writes "Jutarnji.hr".

Photo: Instagram / Draga di Lovrana

"Exactly five years ago, our restaurant was included in the Michelin guide and awarded with a Michelin star, which we proudly wore in the following years. Those years were challenging and exciting, it was very important to reconfirm the status and a lot of creative energy was invested in fulfilling some non-existent rules in order to keep the status in the company of the best", said Christian Nicolac.

He adds that in all this the original idea was lost, and the status of a restaurant with a Michelin star became a kind of burden for them.

"In October of last year, I closed the restaurant and made a decision that I no longer want to be burdened with awards and statuses. I decided to return the star. My daughter Kelly Nikolac, the young force of the family, expressed her desire to run a hotel and restaurant, but according to her own ideas, unencumbered by statuses and successes. She decided to create her own story, as a logical continuation of her parents' idea and to bring back the familiar feeling of hospitality as it was originally conceived," added the owner of the restaurant.

Photo: Instagram / Draga di Lovrana

Nicolac says he has nothing against Michelin stars and would like them to remain in the Michelin guide. However, they will return the star because in their case it only brought them problems in the business.

"We simply lost guests, and the investments in a restaurant with a kitchen concept that we had are too high and unprofitable. I want us to be a restaurant where the guests will feel comfortable, not think that they have to be formally dressed, that they can come with children, with a dog", said Nikolac.

Photo: Instagram / Draga di Lovrana

In the years after the star, which imposed the imperative to raise the bar and put the owners under media pressure, Nicolac realized that such a concept of "fine dining" did not fit the place itself, nor the goals he and his wife had set when they opened the hotel with a restaurant in 2005.

The guesthouse, which was built in 1909 and was visited by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph himself, is located in Lovranska Draga at 388 meters above sea level, in the Učka Nature Park, so their traditional guests were from all profiles, nature lovers who love to enjoy nature, clean air and the view of Kvarner.

Considering the prices and the formal "dress code", because you don't go to the mountain with a jacket and a dress, after the Michelin star, tourists no longer saw "Draga di Lovran" as their place.

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