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Hundreds turn out at protest to save Frank Wang’s coffee cart outside Bethnal Green Station

PUBLISHED: 12:07 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:59 09 August 2018

There were more than 200 people protesting outside Chiringuito. Picture: Charles Cattel-Killick

There were more than 200 people protesting outside Chiringuito. Picture: Charles Cattel-Killick

Archant

Hundreds of people turned out at a demonstration in support of a Bethnal Green coffee vendor who they believe is being pushed out of the area.

Frank Wang, who was moved to tears by the protest's show of support. Picture: Charles Cattel-KillickFrank Wang, who was moved to tears by the protest's show of support. Picture: Charles Cattel-Killick

Frank Wang has been running a coffee cart outside Bethnal Green Station for 15 years but faces being relocated.

At a protest yesterday more than 200 people showed their support for Frank.

“It was completely overwhelming,” Simon Woolley said, a supporter who works around the corner from the cart.

“Frank was moved to tears. He had no idea how loved he was.”

Frank's coffee cart has been outside Bethnal Green Station for 15 years. Picture: Charles Cattel-KillickFrank's coffee cart has been outside Bethnal Green Station for 15 years. Picture: Charles Cattel-Killick

Frank’s supporters are worried a new bar behind his pitch, Chiringuito, is going to push him out.

About four months ago, Frank’s electricity supply, which is provided by TfL, was cut off, and the replacement generator stolen.

At the protest outside the new bar, supporters said they didn’t blame it – but they wanted TfL, which holds the contract with Frank, to do more to protect him.

“They don’t feel angry towards Chiringuito,” Simon said.

One elderly protestor said Frank's business provides humanity, not just coffee. Picture:  Charles Cattel-KillickOne elderly protestor said Frank's business provides humanity, not just coffee. Picture: Charles Cattel-Killick

“I spoke to one of the managers and they said the two businesses should operate side by side, they have no objection towards Frank. We totally agree with that.”

Before the protest, the bar’s owners said they were aware of the demonstration. Their spokeswoman said: “The matters of Frank’s power supply and occupation of the pitch are between Frank and his landlord.

“Chiringuito is not “big business” - I am a local resident working passionately to improve the area. I am sure we can coexist as neighbouring businesses.”

Protest signs from Frank's supporters, who said they'll be outraged if he's forced to move. Picture: Charles Cattel-KillickProtest signs from Frank's supporters, who said they'll be outraged if he's forced to move. Picture: Charles Cattel-Killick

Simon said: “Frank’s done nothing wrong.

“One protestor in her eighties said when you buy coffee from Frank, you get much more than a cup of coffee, you get humanity. I think that conjures up what people feel and the sense of injustice.

“People will be outraged if Frank is gone.”

Frank has been offered a new pitch, but Simon said its location outside a Starbucks would make business unviable for Frank.

The vendor has also promised to buy a new, slimmer coffee machine, so that his cart takes up less space.

When TfL were approached for comment before the protest, a spokesman said: “We understand this is disappointing for Mr Wang and are doing everything we can with the council to offer alternative locations close by, to make sure his business continues to thrive in the Bethnal Green community.”

To show support for Frank, visit the petition here.

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