Red light barista driven out of business

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2013
Peppercorn cafe, Keith Zhou
NICK REED/Fairfax NZ
PLUCKY BUSINESSMAN: Keith Zhou, 26, set up Peppercorn cafe in Hamilton and until earlier this week was selling $2 coffees to motorists to increase business.

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Council pen pushers have poured cold water on a plucky Hamilton cafe owner's venture selling $2 coffees to waiting drivers.

Keith Zhou, owner of the Peppercorn Cafe at the north end of Victoria St, started selling the coffees months ago and business jumped when nearby roadworks blocked a lane of traffic and created a bottleneck in the peak-hour traffic.

He would often do 10 cups in 30 minutes but he did not make a cent on the sales - it was all about getting his face and product in front of the public.

But now city hall has stepped in, brandishing bylaws shutting down the ballsy barista.

Hamilton City Council and police have told the 26-year-old to cease and desist.

Council spokesman Jeff Neems said, like roadside windscreen washers, Zhou was in breach of their bylaw against selling or advertising to a vehicle stopped on the road.

"Our view is that this behaviour at intersections is extremely unsafe and puts motorists and pedestrian/vendor in serious danger," he said.

"We do not condone it."

Not to be outdone, police Sergeant Phil Ruddell this week described Zhou as "an opportunist" and "a risk to himself and other road users".

"From what we understand a man has been walking out into the intersection of Forest Lake Rd and Victoria St while the lights are red and offering to sell coffees to waiting motorists," he said.

Waikato Times readers appear to be made of sterner stuff, however, yesterday coming out firmly in support of the entrepreneurial Zhou.

"Big over reaction... Let the man provide for himself and his family," said King Julien.

Dan Chapman reckoned city bosses needed to "get a grip".

"This guy should be the bloody Mayor."

Zhou has indicated he will abide by the council and police orders.

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- Waikato Times

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