He is sitting at a table in the corner of his small restaurant, the Ton Bul Grill, right in the center of Frankfurt. Uğur Yumuşakbaş comes across as modest and measured, certainly not someone who wants to make big bucks in the banking city. But he has just increased the price of the doner kebab in his shop from seven to ten euros.
Now you have to explain to the people in the other parts of Germany, especially in the kebab capital Berlin, that a kebab has always been a bit more expensive in the Main metropolis. Seven or eight euros have been normal for years. With ten euros, Yumuşakbaş breaks the sound barrier here too. But he has good reasons for it.
"If I want to continue to offer quality, then there is no way around it," he says. Inflation has hit him hard in recent months. Energy prices are one thing, food prices are another. "The price of meat has tripled in the past few months," he cites as an example. "And we only use veal." This is processed by his own employees and formed into a doner kebab skewer - he does not have the skewers supplied by mass manufacturers.
In fact, restaurants are particularly affected by inflation, which recently averaged 10.4 percent. Because the catering trade processes food whose price has risen by more than 20 percent in the last twelve months. In addition, the industry needs a lot of energy, and as is well known, the growth rates have been even higher in recent months.
The alternative to the price increase was therefore to either give up or go down with the quality, says Yumuşakbaş. But he didn't want that. Because quality has been his concept for ten years. Before he started Ton Bul Grill, he was a restaurant manager at a steakhouse.
When he set up his own business, he wanted to offer food “like mothers made”, i.e. good ingredients, prepared with love. "Of course it costs a little more," he says. And this idea has worked so far. His snack bar always occupies one of the top places in the relevant rankings in Frankfurt. Long queues form in front of the shop at lunchtime and in the evening.
Nevertheless, the price increase was not easy for him. "I've waited a long time," he says. He hoped that the price trend might turn around. But he has since lost that hope. "And I'm not a bank," he says. He has to pay his employees, and of course he wants to earn something in the end. "I'm in the restaurant 12 to 15 hours a day, often seven days a week."
Of course, he was also met with criticism for his price increase. "Cheeky" is a frequent comment on Google Maps, for example, which has already cost him points in the overall rating there. But he coolly countered that. "Anyone who wants a doner kebab for four or five euros should ask themselves what's in it." A doner kebab, if done properly and well, is not a cheap dish. Such a notion is a misconception. Unfortunately, in Germany there is a widespread attitude of wanting to save on food and only looking at the price.
But he has found his customers – and they stay. His customers usually understand the price increase, says Yumuşakbaş. And he's sure he won't be the only one who has to raise the price so significantly. You'll probably have to get used to the fact that a doner kebab costs double digits - maybe even in Berlin at some point.
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