End of an era: Stars’N’Bars to close its doors forever

Stars’N’Bars cofounders Didier Rubiolo and Kate Powers. Photo: Nancy Heslin

In my last interview with Kate Powers, in November 2020, the late cofounder of Stars’N’Bars told me, “Lockdown helped us to wake up to necessary ecological changes that were more important than economical ones. Stars’N’Bars is only getting started on their ecological journey.”

Although at the time she could not reveal details about the vision she and cofounder Didier Rubiolo had planned, she did say, “We realise how much people don’t like change but if we want to make a difference, we must change our habits. The planet can do without us but we can’t do without the planet. There will big changes in spring 2021.”

Kate’s death in August 2021 overshadowed the transformation of Stars’N’Bars but now it is official that Monaco’s go-to family-friendly restaurant for nearly 30 years – where Prince once played a secret concert, where Michael Schumacher drank victory beers with his racing team and where Prince Albert and his daughter Jazmin Grace took part in the annual Quiz Night – will close its doors permanently on January 27.

“It has been an honour to serve millions of guests from all over the world and we especially want to thank the Monaco community for its amazing support,” expresses Didier, who started

Stars’N’Bars with Kate back in ’93 to provide regular people beyond the jet-setters “reasonably priced and quality dining outside the home.” The pair converted an abandoned warehouse into what is today an 1800-square-metre hospitality centre with over half a million customers served every year.

A classically-trained chef with experience in gastronomic restaurants in France and Monaco, Didier first met Kate at her family-run “Le Texan”, the first Tex-Mex restaurant in Monaco and a favourite of Prince Rainier (who gave it the name). Didier went on to revolutionise Monaco’s dining scene by upgrading American Tex-Mex fare at Stars’N’Bars to eventually incorporating an international selection of Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Kate may have been more in the public eye over the years, but it was Didier who drove “the restaurant’s shift towards vegetarian and vegan options.

“When Kate and I opened Stars’N’Bars we wanted to give Monaco something new, original and exciting.” Didier recalls. “Our concept was a great success but eventually we realized that we wanted to make a bigger difference in the wellbeing of our community and the planet, especially for our children.”

Stars’N’Bars began developing a “healthier dining experience” and supporting Prince Albert’s environmental protection efforts, including adopting renewable energy sources, finding new ways to reducing waste and creating the first Monaco-based urban vegetable garden as a source of fresh produce and seasonings for restaurant use.

Didier Rubiolo on 2021 World Clean Up Day distributing pocket ashtrays. Photo: Instagram starsnbarsmc

Kate and Didier joined other eco-conscious activists in Monaco to create MONACOLOGY, the week-long educational experience every June to help school children learn how to respect their planet. “We all need to accept that climate change threatens the planet and our children’s lives. Kate and I decided that we wanted to raise conscientiousness about that threat and help the community find solutions,” Didier highlights.

The avid cyclist adds, “It will be sad to say goodbye to Stars’N’Bars after 30 years but it’s time to create something even more special. We will be releasing details of a new project soon and we can’t wait to take the next step!”

Didier, Annette Anderson and the Stars’N’Bars team plan to make the most of the next two months by hosting special animations along with reintroducing popular “nostalgia” blast-from the-past dishes that are not on the current menu. Their social media feed will include throwback images and videos from “unforgettable events over the last three decades, including Halloween, the Fourth of July, Grand Prix, a concert by Prince and surprise visits by international celebrities.”

Kate Powers and Annette Anderson celebrating Fourth of July.. Photo: Instagram starsnbarsmc

And you, the much-loved community who have helped make Stars’N’Bars the institution it has become, will be invited to post your favourite Stars’N’Bars memory to help create a permanent online “living history” of the restaurant. Photo opportunities will be staged for those who want to be “immortalised” as part of the famous restaurant décor and atmosphere before it disappears forever in January.

“Everyone wants to know about our new next step but we really want to focus the last two months of Stars’N’Bars on celebrating 30 years of amazing memories with our customers and staff,” shares Annette.

Stars’N’Bars has always been there for us. Let’s be there for them until January 27 when the doors close for the last time. As Kate always said, “Do what you love. Love what you do. And make a difference.”

Rhonda Hudson, President Kate Powers Foundation

Rhonda Hudson and Kate Powers.

There are people who fantasise about living in Monaco. For Rhonda Hudson, a physical dream came to her one night while attending chiropractic school in Atlanta Georgia. “The dream was strong and vivid. I was walking down an old small cobblestone road holding hands with two little girls and when I looked up, I saw a sign that read Niçoise Socca. As I had never visited Europe, it took me a few months to figure out what this meant. As soon as I did, I quit school and flew to Nice. Two suitcases, my dog and me,” recalls Rhonda, founder of the well-being centre of alignment, Bodyflow.mc.

About ten months after arriving in the Alpes-Maritimes in 2000, the native of California visited Monaco. “I gave myself the time to find out who I was, letting go of old belief systems, family stuff and data. I did a lot of deprogramming and went deeper inside.”

Rhonda says she was searching for a deeper meaning to life. “I began questioning everything. There had to more to this world and humanity then suffering and this longing to have more, be more, do more, which seemed like a never-ending road down the rabbit hole. Somewhere in all of this must be a deeper inner-peace where we find joy, happiness and bliss even in the challenging times.”

Shortly after coming to Monaco she met Kate Powers. “Kate and I shared a deep love of helping others, both in our own ways, and definitely sharing our experiences together so we could grow.”

Rhonda shares that her friendship with Kate was not instantaneous. “It took us a few years to build a deep connection from just being acquaintances at various events of interest. We first met through some well-being events around Monaco, yoga classes, the Fourth of July and Halloween at Stars’n’Bars. We built our deep friendship walking the No Finish Line sometime in 2002 or 2003. Over those several days of walking together it was as though we had been friends our entire lives, something clicked, and from that point forward we shared almost everything.”

After that, Rhonda and Kate planned wellness events together and went on many retreats, from detox retreats around the region to liver cleanses in Germany. The last one was in Malta with one of their favourite neuroscientists, Dr Joe Dispenza. “We planned how we could make a difference for Monaco and the environment, how we could have an impact on the community and how we could heal ourselves through our own personal struggles.”

The Monaco resident admits that while living in California she was not as focused on a healthy lifestyle. “My moto is balance. I feel extremely blessed that I have been around and influenced by some of the top leaders in the well-being industry worldwide.”

Bodyflow.mc offers people the opportunity to experience bodywork, breath work, kundalini yoga (chanting, singing, breathing exercises), meditation, sound therapy and transformational coaching. “Sometimes in life, we feel stuck, depressed and helpless. We experience the death of loved ones, divorce, financial struggles, anxiety, stress, being burnt out or overwhelmed. Through a variety of tools people can experience alternative ways for recovery, for healing, to create an experience of well-being from the inside. And developing these daily tools means they can use overcome their issues and feel well, healthy, joyful and strong mentally, physically and emotionally,” she explains.

Rhonda works with teenagers and adults using a variety of different techniques. She says a life balance, breathing and power practices are the three steps people can take to improve their wellness levels.

“Make sure you have balance between work, family, socialising, sleep and exercising. Try alternate nostril breathing helps reduce stress and settle the mind. And meditation, sound therapy and yoga allow you to master your thoughts and transform your life.”

Painting by Dave Van Dorst. Photo: Alicia Sedgwick

With the one-year anniversary of Kate’s death approaching on August 30th, many of us still struggle with the loss. For her closest friend Rhonda, it remains especially raw.

“It is hard to believe it is the one-year anniversary of her passing. I have tears in my eyes at this moment as I miss her, our friendship, her smiling face, our numerous adventures and our deep chats over a glass of wine on how we could make a difference—one of her favourite sayings and a tag line on her emails.”

It is largely thanks to Rhonda and Kate’s family that the Kate Powers Foundation was officially formed in June. “I did get Kate’s permission after much deliberation. I am not sure how many people knew that Kate had a shy side to her. She was not a huge fan of public speaking even though she was great at it and when we first started discussing a foundation in her name she wasn’t convinced.

“After several weeks of discussions, I managed to help her see how much she had done for the community and the Principality, and how it was important that we kept her passions, dreams and desires moving forward. She then shared with me all the things she would love to see followed through and created through the Foundation. I remember her saying, ‘Are you sure we have to call it the Kate Powers Foundation?’ We both smiled and then laughed.”

The slogan for the Kate Powers Foundation (KPF) is “Together we shine Bright”. Rhonda reveals, “One of Kate’s deepest desires was to pull people together in the community. When anyone had a problem or needed help, they would walk through the doors of Stars’n’Bars looking for Kate. Parents would tell their kids, ‘If you get into trouble and can’t reach me, go to Kate.’ When someone had an idea for an event or project, they would go to Kate. If a person was in emotional pain, where did they go? Kate. She listened, she offered positive words and hugs, and she shared a moment with people that let them know everything would be okay, she was there to help. To Kate, everyone was special. To everyone, Kate as a beacon of light.”

The Foundation is in its early stages and, as president, Rhonda and the association’s board are pulling together all Kate’s ideas they would like to follow through with over the next few years that both unite the community and follow her lead of giving back. For example, linking the Eco Angels – the group Kate put together to pick up trash after the Grand Prix, The Jumping and the Yacht Show – with companies who are aligned with the Foundation’s efforts so together they can make a difference

“Kate loved the sea and wanted to make sure we kept all the trash left over from these events out of the water, so we could help heal the environment. She also had a big passion for children, so we are excited to work with and be inspired by kids and young adults of Monaco. Every project we participate in will give back to the community in various ways – education, scholarships, well-being, personal growth and sustainable means – giving everyone an opportunity to work together and give back.”

At the moment, the KPF website is under construction. Individuals and companies will soon be able to donate online globally or for specific projects, share ideas, sign up for events, participate as volunteers or partner with the Foundation, as well as receive a monthly newsletter. Donations can be made by cheque or wire transfer to the Kate Powers Foundation c/o BodyFlow, Palais de la Scala, 1 Henri Dunant, Monaco 98000.

Shane Heminway., Peter Thomas, Didier Rubiolo, Annette Anderson and Mike Powers onJuly 16, 2022.
Photo: Alicia Sedgwick

On July 16th, the Foundation held a “super simple get together” in honour of Kate’s birthday at Stars’n’Bars. “We had a wonderful turnout with so many volunteers donating their time and goods, making this very first event something special for everyone that was able to attend. Kate touched the lives of so many people, I believe the community will join together to see her legacy live on. ‘Do what you love, love what you do and make a difference’ as she always said.”

As a tribute to mark August 30th, Rhonda graciously agreed to share a few of her favourite Kate stories. “I have so many, however, here is one that comes to mind. Every week, we would sit at the bar close to the kitchen of the fusion restaurant and discuss the various ways we could stop Kate’s mom Kelly from feeding popcorn to the pigeons at the front of Stars’n’Bars, which seemed to annoy customers. We came up with numerous plans to distract Kelly but I am not sure any of them worked!

“Another time we flew to London to go to a seminar ‘The Work’  by Byron Katie to find a deeper meaning to life and question what you believe. We spent two days in the seminar and were rushing to the airport late Sunday afternoon. It started to snow on the M25 highway, which meant we ended up in a huge traffic jam with nothing moving. So we built a snowman to pass the time. Kate always looked at making the best of the situations we found ourselves in … and there were many.”

On a more intimate note, Rhonda opens up: “The year leading to Kate’s passing, and I had to sit with this for a while to put it into words, was special. I know that may sound strange but let me share why … we laughed, we cried, we worked on so many things personally for healing, we discussed all the things we did together, everything she was feeling during this time, how much she loved what she did, how many special people she had relationships with and how they influenced her life in such a positive way.

“Overall, Kate felt enriched by all of her experiences, how much she loved her family and friends and staff at Stars. And lastly, she said how she loved the community in Monaco and this was her home.”

Kate Powers’ Birthday

A special family afternoon at Stars’n’Bars will honour Kate Powers birthday on Saturday, July 16th. The event is being organised by the Kate Powers Foundation, which was set up to continue her dedicated work on bettering the well-being of the community and the environment.

“Kate left us on August 30th and we miss her,” the Foundation says. “Her love and sense of fun made every event at Stars’n’Bars so memorable, we miss it.”

Volunteers from the Kate Powers Foundation will be raising money through various games for children and adults – three-legged race, egg spoon race, pétanque – as well there will be an inflatable castle, face painting, meditations and a sound bath, a wellness corner and a raffle with Kate-appropriate prizes (see below). There will also be a silent disco and a dunk tank.

Stop by between 4pm to 10ish (no reservations necessary) and pay tribute to our friend Kate while supporting the Foundation that bears her name. Entry is €30.

Food and drink (salad bar, cake, cookies, wine, Blue Coast Beer and Kombucha …) not included. More details will be revealed in coming weeks but I can confirm Mickie and Minnie Mouse will be on hand for photos.

Every time you say the words “I miss Kate”, follow that up with “How can I help?”

Tombola donations

  • Blue Coast Beer
  • Signed football shirt ( Lisa/Steph Morandi) Monaco FC
  • 2 vouchers for Zumba classes (Lisa Parker/Morandi)
  • 1 reflexology (Keah Lan, Senses)
  • Advanced Body Management (Kylie Tomich)
  • Azur Chiropractic (Julie Reynolds)
  • Craniosacral therapy session (Lucy Coote)
  • Meal for 2 at Piazza
  • Annette Shine yoga
  • Bon Cadeaux Treatment (Fanny Rigaud)
  • 100 cupcakes (Nicky Johnson)
  • Birthday cake (Angie Roberts)

Kate Powers

Our friend Kate Powers has died.

Outside of my immediate family, few deaths have impacted me like the news about Kate on Monday. It was not unexpected yet, still, my knees buckled and time seemed to stop, as if the world was trying to readjust to losing one of its biggest beating hearts.

As expats, few people can share your grief when a person in your native country dies. Friends here can empathise with loss, but it is rare they knew the person or can share stories to help you keep their memory alive. With Kate, we are all mourning and instead of being sad alone, we can be sad together.

Kate made each of us in the community feel like we mattered in this world. We felt special because the core of her being was special, this was her superpower. There is a shared sentiment in the role Kate played: “Kate was the first person I met in Monaco.” “Kate treated everyone the same way, no matter who we are.” “Kate had known my kids since they were babies and always asked how they were doing.” “Une bonne personne, toujours au service et un petit mot pour ses clients.” “Kate introduced me to other people when I didn’t know anyone.”

For me, I had lived in the region for many years before I met “the” Kate Powers. I had heard so much about this American who owned a Tex-Mex restaurant in the port and was not only a childhood friend of the Prince but her mom was close to Grace Kelly. Slightly intimidating? What I remember in meeting her for the first time, and this has always stuck with me, is that Kate was the opposite of what I expected from the jet-set bling-bling crowd of Monaco – instead of resting on her laurels, she was a down to earth, open and a warm human being who instinctively knew when to hug at the right time. Like all of us, she had her insecurities although she was unaware of her beauty. “How can I help?” the tireless champion of kindness would always offer.

Of course pre-restaurant days, there was Kate’s made-for-the-movies life, one that she had hoped to share in writing or a series of video chats. Sitting with her and Annette Anderson one day talking about how to get all Kate’s stories out there, I remember my mouth dropping when she gave me a teaser: “Roman Polanski had called to ask me on a date and my mom grabbed the phone and told him to ‘F-off’ before hanging up. We were living in Switzerland at the time and I snuck out to the party where he was with Jack Nicholson. They were drinking too much so I left but as it was snowing outside and someone had left their keys in a car, I decided to drive home. I hit a snow bank so I had to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way.”

*******

On Monday night, as the tears rolled down my cheeks and dampened my pillows as I tried to fall asleep, I realized that while I wish Kate had stuck around much, much longer than her 68 years, she accomplished in life what we all hope for when we leave this earth: she made a difference. She did not wait until her diagnosis to live the life she wanted. She did not have to learn about spiritual awareness or quickly check off a Bucket List. No, Kate Powers had been evolving every day of her life, and gently nudging us along her path of change for the better.

She did not need to change. The Monegasque could have easily sat back over the years and let Stars’n’Bars, the restaurant she co-founded with Didier Rubiolo nearly 30 years ago, ride on the coattails of the Prince Albert connection. Instead, she rolled up her sleeves to transform the family-friendly eatery as a leading example of what she called “ecolution” in the Principality. It was the first restaurant to have its own urban vegetable garden, and to stop the use of plastic straws and non-biodegradable throwaway coffee cups.

When Covid hit last year, Kate told me, “Lockdown helped us wake up to necessary ecological changes that were more important than economical ones. We need to keep taking steps forward and raise awareness about wellness, whether its ours or the planet’s.” Stars’n’Bars replaced serving industrial sodas (Coca-Cola and Sprite) with only Fizz Bio organic colas made in Bordeaux, which some customers did not appreciate and would even walk out. “I try to explain that we are focusing on sourcing locally. When I tell people not to expect the taste of Coke with our organic soda, at first they are unsure but now they love it.”

That was the Kate effect. She had her way of doing things but she opened the floor for dialogue to educate; and she listened to learn.

*******

The first time I spoke to Kate after learning she had cancer, about six months ago, she was, typically, positive. Much of my connection with Kate was over our shared appreciation of nature and often I would send her a message describing some random observation, a text that I could never send to anyone else (including my husband) because they would think I was crazy. She got it.

Here is what I mean. The day after I learned of her illness, I went for a long swim along Cap Roquebrune, specifically with the intent of putting healing energy into the sea for her. This is my form of meditation. I focused on Kate for the entire 5 kilometres and when I returned to shore, I discovered my safety buoy was no longer attached. That had never happened in my seven years of open water swimming. From my apartment, I could see the orange buoy out there floating on the open sea. I texted Kate to tell her the story and said “Whenever you come across anything orange, know that the universe is your safety buoy.”

Kate replied: “I was biking earlier, talking to the trees and asking for their assistance. I looked up to see orange. Orange is Didier’s favourite colour and he is wearing an orange shirt now! The universe is definitely on my side.”

Half a year later, out on my run yesterday morning, the sunrise across the sea, with the clouds, captivated me and I thought “I’ll share that with Kate.” I stopped in my tracks for a moment before telling myself, I can still share these moments with her, just not in the physical world.

I will honour Kate by trying to follow some of her examples – to continue to raise awareness about our planet’s health, to be kinder and more helpful to each other and, as Kate was no fan of the news and its negativity, share good and positive stories with others. Really, to be the best version of myself possible.

Our friend Kate Powers came into this world with wings; she did not have to earn them, only spread them to get back home. And, knowing Kate like we all do, she will certainly raise the bar for all the other angels.

Stars’n’Bars

Kate Powers of Stars’n’Bars. Photo: Nancy Heslin.

With American Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26, Good News Monaco is asking, in the year of Covid, what you are thankful for?

Kate Powers, the cofounder of Stars’n’Bars, shares, “I’m thankful for my family, my health, my faith and where I live. I also really appreciated the peace and quiet as well as the beauty of nature during confinement.”

Kate and her team are busy preparing for Stars’n’Bars annual traditional Thanksgiving lunch. “The French love this plat du jour – turkey, stuffing, corn bread, corn on the cob, creamed onions, with a side of homemade cranberry – all made from my mom’s and grandma’s recipes that I brought over from the States 31 years ago.”

The lunch, served from 11 am to 3 pm, is €19 or €24 with a drink and dessert (homemade pumpkin pie, apple pie and banana and ginger cake) but you need to reserve and if you want turkey with a view, make sure to ask for a table on StarDeck.

If you haven’t been to Stars’n’Bars for a while, you may be surprised. “Lockdown helped us wake up to necessary ecological changes that were more important than economical ones. However, we are now starting to see the positive results of both,” expresses Kate.

During the March to May confinement, Stars’n’Bars, like all restaurants in Monaco and France, was forced to close although Kate says that the staff of 60 were “quick to be supported” with financial assistance by the government. The team, which includes partner and manager Annette Anderson, stayed in touch by a WhatsApp group, brainstorming about new ideas for the eatery post-lockdown.

When the port side restaurant reopened on May 4, it was with a reduced menu focusing on local and organic ingredients. Gone were the Tex-Mex dishes that Stars’n’Bars has been known for since it opened in 1993, and, to the shock of many customers, Coca-Cola was also adiosed.

“We need to keep taking steps forward and raise awareness about wellness, whether its ours or the planet’s, and so we decided to cutback on industrial products that we import as much as possible,” explains Kate. “We have no industrial sodas—we cut out Coca-Cola and Sprite—and serve only organic colas made in Bordeaux.” (Fizz Bio’s cola, lime, orange, lemon and tonic sodas are made with organic brown cane sugar.)

“Some customers are upset that we stopped serving Coke and others get up and walk out when they see there is no longer Tex-Mex on the menu,” Kate admits. “I try to explain that most of the ingredients had to be imported and we are focusing on sourcing locally. It’s the same with Coke. When I tell people not to expect the taste of Coke with our organic soda, at first they are unsure but now they love it.”

The new menu focuses on quality not quantity – an aubergine burger for vegans, organic beef burgers, a temaki salad plus weekly suggestions, pasta dishes and daily specials (plat du jour ). “Our Caesar Salad is à la minute – chicken steamed and fresh bread croutons prepared right before serving.

“Honestly, we have had positive feedback that the menu is better than ever and there are a lot of new regulars returning several times a week.

Caesar Salad. Photo: SNB

Kate points out that anyone needing a fix of chili con carne, nachos or Asian ribs can email a suggestion to info@starsnbars.com to be considered as a weekly plat du jour.

Another new feature, Stars’n’Bars has collaborated with Dr François Seneca, a senior scientist at Centre Scientific Centre of Monaco next door, who has been making Kombucha for four years at home and is now using part of the Star Deck kitchen to produce the fermented drink. “We now have Kombucha pumps with different seasonal flavours, and you can buy a refillable decanter,” Kate remarks.

No surprise, the coffee is locally sourced from Monaco, the ice cream is locally sourced from Monaco and Menton and they now serve homemade jam made in Monaco by cofounder Didier Rubiolo. The popular Blue Coast beer is brewed in Nice.

“You know, after confinement, people couldn’t wait to eat out. You can see that some are still leery and only want to eat outside but that’s okay as we have lots of space between the terrace and three floors inside, including Star Deck where we’ve added plexiglass to open up the view.”

Lunchtime is super busy but as the restaurant can’t open until 7 pm with the current health measures in place, dinner service is slower. “We have had a pretty challenging year, especially now with the hours, but I feel blessed with what we can do in Monaco. Our staff is great when it comes to wearing masks and nobody has been sick. I wish we could open at 6 pm to cater to families and working people but we are lucky.”

Stars’n’Bars is only getting started on their ecological journey. “There will big changes in spring 2021,” Kate smiles. Although she remains tight-lipped on the matter, she hints that new technological, innovative, educational and fun ideas are in the makes.

“We realise how much people don’t like change but if we want to make a difference, we must change our habits. The planet can do without us but we can’t do without the planet,” says Kate Powers.

Today kicked off the 2nd Monegasque edition of the European Week
for Waste Reduction. Over the next nine days, more than
30 associations, government agencies, businesses and individuals
in Monaco will be supporting the campaign to reduce,
reuse and recycle waste. At Stars’n’Bars, zero waste activities
will be shown in the children’s playroom.

Open daily 11 am to 3 pm and 7 pm to 9:30 pm. Breakfast to go is also available.

Stars’n’Bars
6 Quai Antoine 1er

During Covid and confinement, let’s make an effort to support local businesses and services. Do you have a business or service to recommend for I ❤︎  MONACO? Email: GoodNewsMonaco