Protest frothing up to save Frank Wang's coffee stall outside Bethnal Green tube station
PUBLISHED: 16:00 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:24 08 August 2018
Angry commuters and passers-by who stop off for a coffee at Frank Wang's cart outside Bethnal Green tube station are protesting tonight alongside Chinese community leaders against what they say is a bid to get rid of him.
Frank, a popular first-generation Chinese immigrant who set up his stall 15 years ago when the Central line was out of action after a derailment, has been hit by the arrival of a new upmarket bar close to his pitch, his supporters claim.
The father-of-two has been left shaken at the loss of his livelihood, now facing losing his business altogether.
The electricity supply provided by TfL which Frank paid for was cut by workmen, campaigners say. He bought a generator to stay in business—then found ‘racist notes’ left on his pitch which is driving him away.
Supporters are furious at the “inability” to get Frank’s electricity supply restored by TfL, which owns the land, and Tower Hamlets Council which is the freeholder where the rival Chiringuito bar has opened in converted public toilets nearby.
“They should not engage in such tactics,” customer Simon Woolley said. “Frank has been intimidated by big business which should be able to accommodate a little coffee store.”
Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs, one of Frank’s long-standing customers, has come out in support and wants him to stay at his pitch and have his electricity restored. He is lobbying TfL and the Mayor of London’s office.
Transport for London is trying to find Frank an alternative pitch, they promised when contacted by the East London Advertiser.
Their commercial development director Graeme Craig 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.”
The Chiringuito bar’s owners are aware of tonight’s protest. Their public relations agent said: “The issue is between TfL and Frank Wang. It’s nothing to do with us.”
Bethnal Green’s MP Rushanara Ali has also been working to resolve Frank’s problems.
So has the Chinese community. Edmund Yeo at London’s Chinese information centre said: “It’s great to see people coming out to fight for this hard-working, good Chinese man. Our communities work better together and we’ll be there supporting Frank.”
The customers and Chinese community leaders are protesting outside Chiringuito’s café, the former public toilets in Museum Gardens just behind Frank’s pitch, at 7pm tonight.