Portslade Station’s friendly coffee van man finally kicked off pitch after 12 years

Posted On 29 Mar 2018 at 3:00 pm

A trader who has sold Portslade commuters their morning fix of coffee from his van is to be evicted after 12 years.

Tony Beck, 58, has survived previous moves to stop him trading at Portslade Station – but this time, he has been given 28 days to leave the forecourt.

Southern has revamped an old Grade II listed building into a new platform cafe, waiting room and bike hub.

Tony bid to run the cafe, but was outbid by an unnamed independent operator whose identity will be announced in the coming weeks.

And although the new cafe will only be open to passengers from the platform, Southern says there is no room for Tony too.

He said: “In 2014 they wanted to put a bike rack up and they didn’t have anywhere for me to go. They put it on my pitch while I wasn’t there and eventually we got the rack removed.

“I was called the perfect tenant and I got outbid by somebody.

“There’s no access to the public. You have to be a commuter to use it. About 40% of the people who I serve don’t even get on a train. As a business plan, it’s pretty flawed.

“I’m looking at being out of work on 26 April. There’s the possibility of getting a street traders permit, but they won’t have my anywhere on their premises.

“I’ve been here 12 years in March. It might as well be 12 days the way they have treated me.

Ward councillor Robert Nemeth said: “Southern has once again let Tony down – this time in the worst possible way.

“Cllr Peltzer Dunn and I received assurances from Southern in the past that Tony’s tenancy was safe. He was the perfect tenant and exactly what commuters wanted.

“This isn’t the first time Southern has treated him badly.

“The proposed new outlet is in the wrong place and must have been incredibly expensive to build given the refurbishment costs of the neglected building in which it is to be situated.

“I hope that Tony pops up nearby so that he can continue to brighten up commuter’s mornings.”

A Southern spokesman said: “We have updated Mr Beck throughout about the progress of improvement work at the station and the expected opening date of the new cafe; the new cafe will open only after his has closed. Work will begin fitting out the new cafe in a couple of weeks so that it is ready in time.

“The new coffee shop, ideally placed for passengers waiting to catch their train, will be indoors and have tables and chairs, providing better facilities than Mr Beck’s mobile kiosk outside the station.

“We encouraged Mr Beck to apply for the lease of the coffee shop. Sadly, however, his proposal was significantly below the market rate and the winning bidder also offered to fit out the new shop to a better standard.

“As we said before, it is sad to lose someone who has been at the station for years and this was a difficult decision taken with a heavy heart but the process was fair.

“Ideally, we would keep both operations running but there simply isn’t enough business.”

  1. Phill Reply

    He makes the best coffee I know off around the area it’s a shame to see him go maybe we should boycott using the coffee shop on the station once it is open let’s try and help him out and see where we can find a location for him to be because I will admit I will miss my coffee is from him in the morning is and I will not use the one on the station out of principal How many other people would stand with me regarding this

  2. Julie ohara Reply

    Tony makes the best coffee I go along at 5 am to Tony with my family and my disabled son so he can have a tea before we go home to go to sussex county for dialysis this will impact my son yes I can make it at home but my disabled son enjoys Tony’s tea and banter

  3. Antony beck Reply

    It’s always a southern spokesperson.they never have the balls to put a name to the underhanded way they go about there business

  4. Lisa Reply

    I like a a lot of other people wont be using it as never got the train.

  5. Rocka Shocka Reply

    this is big corporate bullying and if we let southern win this battle then they will close down every small or independent business across the whole line.
    we must not let southern win this and we should fight this is the highest possible way.
    otherwise the great of britain will be stripped away for profit.
    this is not the society we should tolerate and it is us, the many, that need to fight these companies head on.

  6. Peggy chandler Reply

    I asked for a shot of chocolate in a double strength coffee about once a month. After the third time he remembered without my asking. No money-minded cafe will give that service. I for one will never use the cafe!

  7. Sam Beck Reply


    Bring your own drinks on the train
    Wait till london!
    Pull together to make a stand from corporate bullies!


  8. ScottT Reply

    Most of the commuters at Portslade in the mornings already have their tickets and the vast majority are going East to Brighton or London – they won’t be going to the station side of the tracks so won’t use the new cafe. There is already cover and a ticket machine on the East bound platform. This is completely flawed. I wonder if Tony can strike a deal with one of the shops which have space in front where he could trade from, perhaps it would help one of the businesses with footfall and be a complimentary relationship.

    • Huwbert Reply

      The cafe is London/Brighton bound side

  9. Harriet Reply

    Another classic example of Southern not listening to its customers, and obliviously making bad choices, I feel bad for the new cafe owner too it’s a lose, lose. Situation, much of the existing trade is from passing traffic, builders, cabbies etc. Portslade is commuter station, so unless the cafe sells alcohol, left in tin at a stealable height they’re unlikely to get many visitors after 8am.

    i pretty confident that I won’t be using the new cafe, oddly not out of loyalty but that the likely reason they won the bid is that they showed a higher tariff than Tony and there’s a point at which it’s easier to make something at home everyday than paying too much.

    Good luck Tony 🙁 see you back there in 3 years when the cafe’s been vandalised too many times and successive cafe owners cant make the numbers work… Souhern are idiots!

  10. Huwbert Reply

    Just get a traders license and park up on the corner of Victoria St. There’s space and it’s not on their property.

  11. Tom Reply

    Tony’s a top man always makes me laugh and does the best coffee/price in portslade! I used to stop there on the way to work for my morning fix

  12. Donna Reply

    I’ve heard that they’re putting in vending machines so not even having someone make the coffee. How will that work in the morning rush ? Will 100% never buy from a machine , shame on you Southern. As usual just thinking of profit not the people who actually use the station.

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      Hi Donna, I specifically asked Southern that and they said no, it’s not vending machines

  13. andy Kingston Reply

    I’ll be boycotting the new cafe on the strength of this.

    Sorry Tony. Totally bang out of order.


  14. Matt Reply

    I am new to the area and have tried the new coffee shop each morning this week. The coffee is very good and it’s not expensive. Also the lady working in the cafe was very friendly. I can understand why people want to give the cafe a miss but I would recommend you all give it a try.

  15. Marnie Reply

    As a regular commuter at portslade I have also tried the new coffee shop and the coffee is fantastic as well as service with a smile – To be so nasty to another independent business contradicts everything your saying about this man tony and his INDEPENDANT business…it is not the new cafes fault but one of southerns so why bully her business? Do you even know the woman? no you do not so why would you bother with such disgusting behaviour and comments.

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