That cannot be true. What do I do then?" The customer, who has just cheerfully ordered air-dried ham and asked for the salami she loves to eat, storms Michael Ebert a little excited when he enters the shop. In the meantime, word has spread among regular customers that the family business Metzgerei & Feinkost Ebert will close in the summer, after 115 years. At the end of August, both the doors in the shop on Freßgass' and in the main building on Große Eschenheimer Straße near the Hauptwache close forever. Many regular customers are very unhappy about this. "You're still so young. What are you going to do now?" they say.

He had been thinking about it for two years, Ebert says in an interview. The Corona years would have led to sales losses – because fewer people came to the city center, hardly any lunch was served to all the hungry from the law firms and bank towers who sat in the home office. The 58-year-old entrepreneur did not receive state aid because his losses were not high enough. For this reason, he gave up the third pillar of the company, the soup kitchen on Freßgass, just over a year ago.

Ebert has been running the butcher's shop since 1999 in the fourth generation. His mother, Anna Ebert, is still in the shop every day at the age of 77, while son Michael lends a hand in production whenever there is a need, and this has been the case almost every day recently. "I've always loved the butcher's shop and really enjoyed making sausages," says Ebert with a little melancholy in his voice, although he is still in the middle of it.

Ebert's passion is award-winning, and the Frankfurt sausages from his kitchen have been voted the best in the city several times. His secret recipe is beech shavings for smoking and a very specific spice mixture for sausage mass, which comes from the Swabian-Hällischer Landschwein. There is also an in-house mustard. The sausages curl fresh in the display and stand in neatly lined glasses on the shelf.

The senior boss complains about the conditions on the street. "The Freßgass' has changed so much." Long-established shops have disappeared, the ambience is no longer inviting, because waste bins are missing and garbage is lying around everywhere. She also criticises "the constant demonstrations" on Saturdays. The wealthy clientele from the Taunus, who used to like to go to the city on weekends to stroll and shop, including sausages and meat from the quality butcher's shop, now prefer to stay at home.

Strict requirements, high investments

Michael Ebert makes the business calculation: The parent company, in which production also runs and which is family-owned, dates back to the post-war period, his grandfather opened the first inner-city butcher's shop there in 1950, his great-grandfather was a butcher in Bockenheim. Ever stricter urban requirements, but above all EU regulations, which apply because of in-house production, demand ever higher investments from him, says Ebert.

There is a lot to complain about in an old house like his: There is a pipe still over plaster, there is a tile has a crack, and then the ceiling is dark from smoking the sausages. In order to be able to continue the business, he would have to invest a lot of money in the renovation, says Ebert. Food control is increasingly attacking old production facilities. Last summer, the butcher's shop had to close production completely for six weeks due to a complaint. An employee probably forgot to clean a cutting device squeaky clean before an inspection.