Tavern deaths: A village collects 1 million euros for its regulars' table

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Village life


Village economy Giggenhausen eG

The Metzgerwirt in Giggenhausen is an important meeting place for the community.

Katharina Krenn, agricultural today

On Sunday, 03/13/2022 – 07:00

With the last inn, village life also dies. The residents of Giggenhausen want to prevent that. How a Bavarian village saves its regulars' table.



Every Sunday, the people of Giggenhausen meet at the regulars' table in the Metzgerwirt.
If you stroll through the 600-strong village of Giggenhausen on a Sunday evening, you won't be able to avoid the Metzgerwirt. Warm light falls through the windows and the atmosphere inside is cheerful. "He should live high, he should live high!" Several gentlemen sing a serenade and toast to the well-being of a celebrant. There is not a free table in the wood-panelled inn. Young and old sit together, glasses clink, the shop is buzzing. The village economy in the Upper Bavarian district of Neufahrn near Freising has been practically closed for weeks. For the traditional Sunday regulars' table, however, landlady Elisabeth scratches the door.

Bureaucracy and staff shortages

For 27 years, Lisi Kratzer has been running the Metzgerwirt, the social hub of the village. But Lisi, as everyone here calls her, doesn't feel like it anymore. She's approaching 60 and wants to slow down. The passionate landlady didn't really want to stop just yet. "You can't find any staff and then all the bureaucracy and requirements that are increasing, especially with Corona," she says. All of this made her decide to give up the butcher's inn.

Inns dying out in the countryside

Many villages are like Giggenhausen. In many places, the last village inn has long since closed, because the innkeepers have not only been dying out since Corona. "Around a quarter of all Bavarian communities now have to get by without an inn," reports the restaurant association DEHOGA Bayern eV
Taverns and village farms are not only closing in the Free State. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, around every second pub nationwide has closed since the late 1990s. It is not yet possible to predict how many will not open up after the pandemic, but it should not be few.

Reasons for the dying out of pubs

According to the restaurant association, there are many reasons for the dying out of inns. The earnings situation in the catering industry has not only been tense since Corona. Even before the pandemic, gastronomy was one of the industries with the lowest reserves and the lowest equity ratio.
But it's not always because of bankruptcy that village farms close. In many cases there is no successor. “If you run an inn in the village, there are no regular working hours. There are also more attractive opportunities on the labor market in rural areas," says district chairman of the Bavarian farmers' association Hans Koller, who runs a village inn in the Passau district. The pandemic has exacerbated staff shortages. During the lockdown months, many catering workers have looked for a new job outside of the catering industry.
Where the regulars' table dies, the place dies
"Where the economy dies, the place dies," according to a study on pub culture in Bavaria by the University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. They have important social functions. "The tavern creates local identity and is an important public space where people meet, exchange ideas and where arguments sometimes take place," says social geographer Prof. Dr. Marc Redepenning from the University of Bamberg. The exchange is important in order not to become strangers. "If you no longer come into contact, you become strangers to each other." That fuels the rumor mill.

Cooperative buys inn

As a place for political and cultural events, the tavern also plays a major role in many towns. The same goes for the butcher's. Shooting club, singing club, vintage car club, grandma and grandpa club, 12 clubs have their home here.
The people of Giggenhausen did not want to allow their clubs to become homeless. "We agreed that this property in Munich's commuter belt should by no means fall into the hands of investors," says local veterinarian Christopher Aichinger. Together with others, he came up with the idea of buying the Metzgerwirt himself, worth 2.5 million euros. But how should one finance such a huge sum? With the help of a cooperative, that's the idea.
The board members, the rural women and the rural youth were on board from the start. The village economy team was founded, a handful of people who voluntarily promoted the founding of the cooperative. In order to have planning security, they set up old, wrought-iron ballot boxes at the butcher's inn and in the church, into which everyone could throw their declaration of intent with the amount of the promised cooperative share.

A million euros for the landlord

They had their target sum, 1 million euros, together in a very short time. They already have a tenant in mind. In the lease, the new butcher landlord must undertake that all club events will continue to have their place in the inn. The institution of the village economy stands or falls with the innkeeper. “You have to live the role of village innkeeper. You're there for the people. That needs a bit of idealism,” says Koller. So the people of Giggenhausen hope that the new landlord will bring as much passion with them as their Lisi.

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