A Sheffield institution with an Irish flavour will come to an end next week when the Hot Sausage Company on Fargate sizzles for a last time.
Michael McCurtin will take the sausages off the cooker for the final time on Saturday, January 14, after selling them to hungry shoppers and workers for five years.
The cheerful Irishman with the thick Cork brogue is sad to be closing up and will miss the regulars he’s served for half a decade.
There is always plenty of banter between him and customers.
“People love the Irish accent in the city centre. I feel a bit special, you know,” Michael said.
He has more than a few funny stories to recount. One potential customer told Michael he could get 10 sausages in a can from Poundland for less than the price at the cart.
“And I’ve had a few Americans come up and ask me about the size of my sausage,” he said.
“Quite a few have asked if I do sell pizzas and chips. We’re a hot sausage company,” said Michael, gesturing towards the large-print sign above the cart.
He will miss some of the buskers who play in the city centre daily.
“But I won’t miss all of them,” he said as the sounds of someone tuning up a banjo rings out across Fargate.
Michael spent two years selling sausages in Bath before an opportunity to run a Sheffield cart came up in 2012.
He came to Fargate every day for three months get a handle on the footfall in the centre of Sheffield.
“I lived with my sister Ruth in Leeds, and I used to commute to Sheffield,” he said.
It has been a success ever since – but times have been getting tougher.
The 35-year-old said: “It’s put about 10 years on me, but I’m still smiling.”
He drives the cart on a trailer from the Cricket Inn Road warehouse every day to trade, before packing up and leaving before 10pm.
And he is constantly being moved around because of the many events on Fargate.
“It’s getting more stressful,” said Michael, of Myrtle Road, Heeley.
He plans to unwind with a sun-filled holiday – with Tenerife top of his list.
And he is looking forward to coming into town as a punter rather than for work.
“I think I’ll enjoy it a lot more now that I’m out of it,” he said.
Along with the customers, he also wanted to thank the city ambassadors for their work in patrolling Fargate during business hours.
“In the five years I have been trading in the city centre, I’ve had very little trouble,” Michael said.
Trading is tough in January, when New Year resolutions kick in and the post-Christmas purse strings tighten.
“Everybody is on a diet and everybody is skint,” he said. “Everybody is miserable in January.”
Michael plans to thank his customers with a half-price sale on his last day of trade. “I have a bit of stock which I have to get rid of,” he said.
Michael now plans to study gas engineering at college and work installing gas boilers.
“I think it’s getting colder here,” he said.