Michelin-starred restaurant in Cheltenham burns down

Image copyright Dylan Larkington Image caption Dylan Larkington’s business burned down in Cheltenham

A famous Michelin star restaurant in Cheltenham burned down in a suspicious fire overnight.

The building’s owner Dylan Larkington, who runs a garage next door, said the structure caught alight “suddenly”.

He said there was little to save and that he was lucky not to have been there himself.

“I don’t know what would have happened to me. I’m lucky, I would not have survived,” he said.

Dylan Larkington’s Windmill restaurant was at number 49 on the 2019 Michelin Stars’ list.

Since 1992, Windmill restaurant, on Bank Street, has featured four times on the most prestigious restaurant ranking.

In 2017, it won an award for best Scottish restaurant by Scottish Food and Drink magazine.

Dylan Larkington has previously told the BBC: “It [Windmill] has been loved by many people and it was a great place to eat – a bar and restaurant under one roof.”

Image copyright Roban Palermo Image caption The blaze spread from the Windmill restaurant to the nearby garage

He said he had not been inside to check on his shop at 12.30am on Friday when he saw smoke and flames emerging from the roof.

Witness Roban Palermo, 33, said he arrived to find firefighters had already been called to the restaurant.

He said: “The wind didn’t help. It was horrific. The whole building caught fire and then the garage next door went straight under, and then there was a big orange ball of fire shooting out of the roof of the restaurant.

“I saw loads of smoke and flames. There was two or three firefighters staying by the window trying to get it under control.”

Image copyright Roban Palermo Image caption Firefighters worked through the night to put out the blaze

Image copyright Roban Palermo Image caption The building had been empty since Windmill closed in 2015

Mr Palermo said it had been empty since Windmill closed in 2015.

A Gloucestershire Police spokesman said a fire investigation was under way to establish the cause of the fire.

“Firefighters were called at 00:14 on Friday, 23 November to the fire in a building on Bank Street in Cheltenham,” he said.

“Fire crews brought the fire under control within 15 minutes and it has now been contained.”

Checking his own property

Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor was among celebrities to send messages of support to Dylan Larkington via social media.

Victoria Beckham posted: “Sending all my love to Dylan Larkington and his family during this difficult time.”

British Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell said: “So sorry to hear about the fire in Cheltenham this morning, just heard an update that there is currently no loss of life or injuries. So unbelievably sad – just awful news.”

Image copyright James Cracknell Image caption Cracknell took to Twitter to comment on the fire

Dylan Larkington, who was managing director at Windmill in 2015 when it closed, lost his livelihood in the blaze.

“I was checking my own property. At first, I thought it had been destroyed. The fire brigade was everywhere,” he said.

“Then the fire alarms started going off in the street.”

The Windmill restaurant featured in the ITV drama Foyle’s War and also appeared in BBC drama Outlander.

It was advertised on the St Andrews Clipper sailing race website as a venue for its reunion celebrations.

Image copyright I, Nightgirl Image caption The Windmill used to offer super-fast light ice creams

However, its current financial circumstances have never been made public.

A report into Windmill found it faced a considerable operational deficit of £250,000 in June 2016.

Its finances were listed as under financial “intensive care” in a council report submitted to the chamber in October 2017.

Windmill became the only Windmill restaurant on the Lancashire Coast when it opened in 1996.

A spokesman for the Michelin restaurant awards told the BBC that it was “deeply saddened to hear the news of Windmill”.

He said: “The Michelin star is notched up for restaurants that are completely involved in restaurant operations.”

Leave a Comment