"They gave the toilet to the rich people, they didn’t tell me they were going to do it"
Londoners are backing a Chinese coffee vendor who is the next victim of hipster gentrification.
As reported by SCMP, Londoners are supporting Chinese coffee vendor Frank Wang who is becoming a victim of gentrification.
Frank Wang, 52, has been selling cappuccinos for 15 years outside Bethnal Green tube station. The Beijing-bred barista is paying around £600 per month in site fees to Transport of London (TFL) to serve coffee from his van.
However, last April, Wang’s power supply from the station was cut off after a disused toilet behind his stall was converted into an Ibiza themed beach bar.
Wang resorted to using a mobile generator, but it was stolen. Now, the father-of-two is unable to work but is left paying the hefty fee from TFL.
“They gave the toilet to the rich people, they didn’t tell me they were going to do it,” Wang said.
“They offered me an alternative site, by a place where all the homeless people are, and also across the road in front of Starbucks, which is ridiculous,” he added. “How can I compete with them?
Wang said that local people want him there so he is determined to stay in the area. “I am trying to stay in Bethnal Green because a lot of people want me to stay there.”
Around 300 Bethnal Green locals held a rally outside the station, demonstrating their support for the Chinese coffee vendor.
“Furious Friends of Frank,” read one placard. “We Love Frank,” read another.
“I believe in community, and people who make a difference to the community, which Frank does,” local resident Sam Odd said. “He’s a lovely man and he is being bullied and it is wrong.”
Local MP Rushanara Ali issued a letter of support too. “Mr Wang’s coffee cart is a valued business and cultural market of Bethnal Green” Ali wrote. “I am disappointed with how Mr Wang has been treated and have asked the Council and Transport for London to urgently assist Mr Wang to ensure that this much-loved coffee cart will not be relocated or forced out of business.”
“Mr Wang is a wonderful friend to his customers, who include me, and I very much hope this matter can be resolved as quickly as possible.”
Chinese community leaders in London also offered their support. Edmond Yeo from the London’s Chinese Information and Advice Centre said, “it’s great to see people coming out to fight for this hard-working, good Chinese man.”
An online petition garnered over 4,000 signatures in support of Wang too.
In response, Director of Commercial Development at TFL Graeme Craig said, “we completely understand that this is extremely distressing for Mr Wang and we are doing everything we can to ensure his business continues to thrive as part of the Bethnal Green community.”
Great to see such a turn out for beloved local coffee vendor Frank @frank_save #BethnalGreen #TowerHamlets pic.twitter.com/UUGMLdcrxO
— Annie Goh (@annie_goh) August 8, 2018
Frank had something he wanted to say to everyone who turned up to support him in Bethnal Green today @frank_save #SaveFrank pic.twitter.com/mDizBHwDzE
— Charles Killick (@CharlesKillick) August 8, 2018
Even buses are tooting for Frank. Come on @TfL and @TowerHamletsNow support Frank’s small business in #bethnalgreen! @rushanaraali @JohnBiggsAM @frank_save pic.twitter.com/xHLWhfTflj
— Elisa Mascellani Mclaughlin (@ElisaMascellani) August 8, 2018