PROTEST TO SAVE FRANK: Local coffee vender 7pm Wed 8th Aug Bethnal Green Tube



Frank Wang has been serving coffee from his cart outside Bethnal Green Tube Station to local residents for nearly 15 years. Many local people and visitors to the area have experienced his kindness, generosity and good humour. He's a friend to many and during the cold weather he even gives out free hot drinks to the local homeless.

But Frank is being hounded out by the arrival of a new upmarket bar called Chiringuito, sited in the former community toilets building just behind his pitch. Local residents have expressed their dismay at the loss of Franks' stall, and his affordable hot and soft drinks.

Frank, who is an East Ender and first generation Chinese migrant, has been left shaken and upset by the abuse and threats and the loss of his livelihood. He is now facing the prospect of losing both his business and his home while he also has a wife and two children to support. A series of actions have turned life into a nightmare for this popular local businessman:

• Four months ago, workmen at the Chiringuito site cut off the electricity supply provided by Transport for London (TFL) and paid for by Frank.

• Frank went out and purchased a generator in order to stay in business, but soon after it was stolen.

• Racist notes have been left on Frank’s pitch telling him to ‘F…off to where you belong’.

• Alex Dehayen,a wealthy local letting agent and owner of the new bar, told one of Frank’s supporters Simon Woolley, that a Tower Hamlets council official had promised him 'they would get rid of Frank before the bar opened'.

• The harassment towards Frank by the Chiringuito owner has been compounded by the inability of TFL, who own the land where Frank is located, and Tower Hamlets, who are the freeholder for Chiringuito, to find a way of restoring electrical power to Frank.

Both businesses can co-exist alongside one other:

John Biggs, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and a long-standing customer of Frank, has come out in strong support and wants Frank to stay in his pitch and have his electricity restored. To this end he is lobbying TFL and the Mayor of London's central office.

Local MP, Rushanara Ali, has also been working hard to resolve Frank's problems.

3,000 local residents have signed a petition supporting Frank.

Simon Woolley, friend and customer of Frank:

“Frank has been bullied and intimidated by the owner of Chiringuito. A big business like this should be able to accommodate a little coffee store like Frank’s, not engage in ‘I want you gone’, tactics.”

Edmund Yeo, of the Chinese Information and Advice Centre: “It is great to see local people coming out to fight for this hard working, good Chinese man. Our communities work better together, and we will be there supporting Frank with the local community.”

If you’re in the Bethnal Green area and believe that Frank should not be hounded out by big business come and show you support.

7pm Wed 8th Aug Bethnal Green Tube.


OBV Staff writer