There are restaurants where it is obvious why they have to close: no atmosphere, lousy service, lack of guests. The Stalburg is not one of them. The restaurant in Nordend is one of the oldest and most beautiful apple wine taverns in Frankfurt. On summer days, the tree-shaded courtyard on Glauburgstraße is a place where you can meet the neighbourhood over a pint. The kitchen offers tasty dishes from regional organic production, in the restaurant you can experience authentic Ebbelwei culture. The audience appreciates this, there are many loyal guests. And yet the Stalburg is to close at the end of the year.

Matthias Trautsch

Coordination of reportage Rhine-Main.

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Michael Herl, the long-time operator, confirms the news. "Unfortunately, that's a fact." He himself retired from the operation of the restaurant six months ago and is now only responsible for the Stalburg Theatre, which plays in the same building. But he knows the motives of the operating company: the income is too low, the economic perspective is missing. For this reason, "Zur Stalburg GmbH" dismissed the 25 employees at the end of last week. This is sad, but it makes sense from a business point of view.

Four people have a bottle of water

Herl counters the observation that the restaurant and garden are well attended: "But only at peak times." Between 19 and 21 p.m., people would come for dinner, but few would stay longer. Above all, they held back on drinking. "Some people order a bottle of water and four glasses with it." But gastronomy thrives on drinks, a Michelin-starred restaurant as well as an Ebbelwei restaurant. For Herl, there are several reasons for declining beverage sales: Demographic change in Nordend and the Corona pandemic were among them. The fact that the VAT on food is to rise again to 19 percent next year does not make things more profitable.

Many regulars are shocked, some outraged by the news. "I'm speechless" and "A piece of Frankfurt is dying again," users wrote on social media. Some blame the gentrification of Nordend, others the Corona closures or inflation. However, there is also criticism of the owners and management. The property on Glauburgstrasse was bought by an investor two and a half years ago. The management had been inexperienced in gastronomy and had made questionable decisions, for example on price and personnel management. A statement on the allegations could not be obtained by the time of going to press.

Building to be completely renovated

The history of Stalburg dates back to the late Middle Ages. As a moated castle at the gates of Frankfurt, it was the seat of the patrician Stalburg family. In the middle of the 19th century, the ditch was filled in and the courtyard was integrated into the emerging Nordend. In 1879 the apple wine tavern "Zur Stalburg" opened, before the First World War a dance hall and a bowling alley were built. Since 1998, the Stalburg Theatre, founded by Michael Herl, has had its stage in the former dance hall.

For decades, the building and taproom have hardly been changed, but there is no monument protection. According to Herl, the building is in need of fundamental renovation. He assumes that the restaurant will be closed for several years, at least during the renovation, but that the original appearance will be preserved. For the Stalburg Theatre, the closure of the restaurant is a loss. Many visitors had eaten or drunk something before or after the theatre, and the artists had also been entertained. "On the other hand, most other theatres in the world don't have an attached restaurant either."

Regardless of this, the Stalburg Theatre also has to fight for survival. On his homepage there is a call for support; Attendance has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, and the Stoffel Festival, which subsidizes the theater business, has not yielded as much this year as it used to. In order to continue operations, they are dependent on donations.