BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
LONDON, England — Patrick Marche was hoping to capitalise big time on the Olympic crowd when he invested heavily into establishing a second upscale Caribbean Scene restaurant a stone's throw from the Olympic site in Stratford.
But what he didn't bargain for was the Council planting trees in front of the store, blocking the direct view of the hundreds of thousands of patrons filing in and out of the venue on a daily basis.
The Jamaican-born proprietor said the trees were planted three months ago, and no amount of pleading will make the Council remove them.
"It's really very disgraceful," Marche` told the Jamaica Observer, pointing to proof that the trees were not planted anywhere else on the roadway.
"If you are across the road there (at the Olympic Park) you cannot see that there is a restaurant here, and even when we put these banners to the side, because they can't see the entrance' people will just think it is an advertisement," he added.
Marche said he placed a banner in the trees questioning why the view of the largest Caribbean restaurant in the UK had been blocked, but was immediately ordered to remove it.
Marche complained that visitors to the Olympic Park were being shepherded into the stadium to support the mega sponsors, with no effort being made to ensure the dollar reaches local businesses in the vicinity.
He explained further that the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is tied up in contracts with big sponsors and their interests are the only ones being protected.
"The organisers have designed the route to the park to exclude as many local businesses as possible, and this is really disgraceful," he complained.
London, he said, sold itself to win the bid to host the Games on the basis of diversity and engaging local businesses.
He pointed to a promotional video, which London used in its bid to host the Games, in which a young black boy was depicted as running towards the future. This, he said, signalled regeneration, but this had not been the reality.
"But they have only used local businesses as the fodder to get where they want to go," a frustrated Marche told the Observer.
Attempts to distribute leaflets advertising the restaurant to patrons to the Olympic Park have also been restricted by the Council, with enforcers ensuring that this is not done within a certain distance of the stadium.
But Marche, who has refused to lay down and play dead, said he would be attempting to give out leaflets around the restaurant and as close as he can get to the train station along the path to the stadium.
"Tomorrow (today) we will be giving out leaflets around the restaurant and see how far we can get to the (train) station as there are police who go around enforcing this restriction," he said.
Marche said the restaurant has had to deal with the inconvenience caused by the construction of the park and as such he was really expecting that this would have been the time when he would have been rewarded for his patience.
"It is just utterly disgraceful and this is what we are suffering from in this country," he said.