The Channel 4 ‘sting’ on the Shoreditch Cereal Killer Cafe was somewhat unreasonable. One can easily think of a number of better ways to handle it than the immediate reaction offered by business partner Gary Keery, who was snappily dismissive of the reporter challenging him on local poverty. But I’m not under the beady eye of a camera lens, I’m not the one being challenged, and I have the benefit for two decades’ experience in the communications business. Mr Keery had no such luxuries.
As I watched that clip I felt my own heart sink (at 1.05 in the clip) as it dawns on Mr Keery where the interview seems to be going.
He’s running a business and his first obligations are to meet his expenses and turn a profit before he can start investing in corporate social responsibility. I hope he is able to do this, but whether he chooses to do so is really between him and his conscience. And there is no public interest in Channel 4 pursuing him on the matter – neither on day 1 nor on day 101.
There are thousands of businesses in Tower Hamlets, including the global headquarters of several major banks, some very nice restaurants, many of which I’ve reviewed (under the guise of the Munching Mariner), and the bargain garage I used to get my MOT done when I lived locally.
The Cereal Killer Cafe is offering its quirky meals from all over the world for either £2.50 or £3.20 a bowl. That might be a huge mark-up on the raw material, but it’s fairly-priced in comparison to other breakfasts (mostly cooked) available locally. And it’s all too easy to dismiss the retail price without considering all the costs associated with running a catering business in a prime commercial area, whatever poverty lies around the corner.
I’m not quite sure what Channel 4 was trying to achieve. They’ve probably done the cafe a favour with free marketing, but I doubt that was the objective. There are many organisations in Tower Hamlets working to alleviate poverty and help some of the most disadvantaged people who live there. It’s not the primary objective of any business in the area. Get over it.
After his busy first week, Gary Keery has written this open letter to Channel 4:
Dear channel 4 News and Symeon Brown
I am writing this open letter of complaint to you because I feel what you have tried to do to me was completely unfair. I repeatedly told you I was too busy to do interviews, kept pushing me and pushing me even though I had a cafe full of customers wanting to be served. First of all you tried to blame me for the property prices in London before attacking me with questions about poverty.
I am a small business owner and am gambling everything I have in this business and you try to make a mockery out of me 4 days after ‘small business saturday’ when we are supposed to support small businesses.
I have a million things going on in my head and one of those things was about helping local charities as I am not the selfish **** you have made me out to be, although on my opening day I will admit it was not the most important thing for me. I have already been contacted by charities to provide breakfasts for underprivileged children in the area and I will be doing this come January but I wanted to get my cafe open and running first.
You obviously don’t understand business if you think I don’t have to put a mark-up on what I sell. It may be the poorest borough in London but let’s not forget canary wharf is also in this borough but I am the one to blame eh? I am from one of the most deprived area in Belfast so me and my family know all about poverty but haven’t had to blame the small business owners in the area for it, I have been taught a great work ethic and have made it this far without blaming small business owners trying to better themselves and make a future for themselves.
I still have to pay over the top rent for my premises and pay the 12 staff I have employed so I either have to make profit or I will be out of business. Maybe if I charged over £3 for a coffee and dodged all the taxes in this country like some cafés – the reporters would leave me alone would they?
If you want someone to solve the poverty crises in London I don’t think I’m the man to do that as I am too busy trying to cure Ebola and get Kim Kardashian to keep her clothes on. Also you didn’t even pay me for the cereal which you could so easily afford with your overpriced river island suit so I will send you a bill for the extortionate £3.20.
Gary keery (the worst person in the world)