Hampstead’s coffee shop in a phone box under threat: Cost of traders’ licence ‘would put me out of business’

Mustafa Mehmet at his station in Hampstead's old-fashioned red phone box. Picture: Mustafa Mehmet

Mustafa Mehmet at his station in Hampstead's old-fashioned red phone box. Picture: Mustafa Mehmet - Credit: Archant

The man who sells coffee from a Hampstead phone box is worried for the future of his business after Camden Council said they would force him to take out a seven-day street trading licence.

Mustafa Mehmet, who took over the box three years ago, told this newspaper the extra cost could push him out of business, even before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Mustafa, is upset at being made to buy a week-long licence despite never trading that many days – he said the council had told him they didn’t have the resources to monitor when he was serving Hampstead’s caffeine-deprived.

He told the Ham&High: “If I stand outside I’ve been told I need a street trader’s license. They want to charge me for seven days.

“That’s going to cost me £784 a month. I said I can’t afford that, it’ll put me out of business. My other thing is it’s not common sense. This was a phone box, there would have been queues outside. Did everyone queueing have to pay for a license?”

Mustafa added: “I am going to carry on. I’ve become part of Hampstead. I’ve helped to stop people from robbing people, once I tackled a man who had nicked a mobile phone.”

Regular coffee-drinker and customer at the phone box Peter Ratzer said: ”He will be sorely missed. He makes excellent coffee, my daily ‘fix’.

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“He adds life to the Hampstead street scene, is much photographed and has appeared on a number of TV programmes here and abroad; and he makes a valuable contribution to the community as he keeps an eye on the street and has caught a number of petty thieves.”

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The council has a strong record of supporting small businesses and we also have an obligation to ensure that the correct procedures are followed when it comes to street trading.

“There are other ‘phone box based businesses’ in the borough, all of which have a license and similarly this trader is required to have a license.

“We have written to Mr Mehmet, visited him and will continue to liaise with him about this matter.”