Receiving a Michelin star increases prices in a Parisian restaurant by 20 percent, controlling for measures of quality, décor and location. Michelin-starred restaurants in fancy hotels, or in areas with other Michelin-starred restaurants, also have higher prices, again adjusting for quality. Diners are paying more to eat in fine or prestigious surroundings, whether or not the food is better. One gastronomy expert, speaking in Le Nouvel Observateur, noted, “Gaining a Michelin star ensures that your banker will be kind to you.”
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It remains easier to get good cheap food in the United States, if only by looking to the growing number of ethnic restaurants, most of which stand outside formal ranking systems. Labor laws that are more flexible than those in France also support more dining options in the United States. Most Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris are closed on Sundays, and many are closed on Saturdays as well. Labor costs are the major culprit.
“In the Language of Gastronomy, Those Michelin Stars Translate as Dollar Signs,” by Tyler Cowen, The New York Times, July 13, 2006