21 uniforms turn out in force to harass tiny Burger Deli as officials may be about to destroy another local business

by Trevor Bailey

Bill Lake’s photos of FEHD harassment of local business Burger Deli

The FEHD’s harassment of small businesses in Sai Kung continues, angering residents.  Alert local Bill Lake took these photos of uniformed officials leaning on the couple who run Burger Deli, server of the tastiest burgers in town. Bill said it took 21 of the burons* to investigate a tiny operation struggling under about $50,000 in rent.

The burons — forgive us, we’re getting angry — earlier destroyed a business on the same site, or at least helped kill it. Mr Goh  set up a Vietnamese noodle shop there. It had eight seats inside and he dared to put two tables outside. He told customers he was paying $55,000 a month in rent. The white shirts and grey shirts with their robotic mindsets pounced. They fined Mr Goh $1500 because of his outside seating.   Mr Goh quit. His restaurant closed. Now he is back to being a manager of someone else’s business in Kowloon, his entrepreneurial dream shattered.

Photo credit: Bill Lake

Are you proud of yourselves, FEHD?

Now to Burger Deli. Here we have a couple making a valiant effort to grow a mom and pop business. They have no indoor seating; it’s mostly kitchen. Outside they have a couple of tables. From this minuscule business they are trying to make a living. We believe their burgers are the best in Sai Kung.

So 21 uniforms turn up to harass them!

Are you proud of yourselves, FEHD?

Sai Kung people are infuriated by this. In November about 100 people staged a protest in the central square. They organised themselves on Facebook. The spontaneous event was promoted as “FEHD Appreciation Dinner”. The protestors brought their own tables and got food from the restaurants. They said they were protesting at the heavy-handed tactics of the FEHD. The event was widely publicised in Hong Kong.

South China Morning Post photos of protestors’ “FEHD Appreciation Dinner” in our central square

BUZZ says we need another such protest. Perhaps we should roast effigies of the FEHD director and his bureau boss over a bbq fire.

Are you proud of yourselves, FEHD!

* A buron is a cross between a bureaucrat and a moron. They breed them at FEHD.

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  1. Roger: ask FEHD why they pick on small businesses like Burger Deli, yet mysteriously never enforce the law against the seafront restaurants owned by District Council and Heung Yee Kuk members who allow dogs to sit not only at the tables outside but also inside at the tables?

    • I agree that the law must persist but there has to be uniformity in the application of the law. From the past 2 years we have been living in Sai Kung there seems to be too much ambiguity in the application of the law which is not good for all business in Sai Kung.

      There is a detailed process to apply for an outdoor seating license but the process is not followed at all times and certain departments have refused permission without giving valid reasons. Two other businesses that have struggled to get an outdoor seating license that I am aware of are Classified on the Main Square & Casa on Hoi Point Square. Both are sandwiched or adjacent to other businesses that have had their Outdoor seating Licenses approved! So where is the fairness in the application of the law. I am sure there are other businesses that have faced the same problem.

      Al Fresco dining and lack of control around it does bring environmental problems and must be addressed. The local district council should work to educate the local businesses on how to approach this problem not punish them. In 2016 the SCMP covered this issue in a detailed report and the district council was planning a discussion with local businesses but I do not think any action has been taken yet.

      I work as a Health & Safety consultant for Food & Beverage businesses and would be more than glad to devote time to assist them in educating the local businesses.

      Does anyone know where one can get a copy / plan of all outdoor seating licenses for Sai Kung Town area? It would make some great reading of the arbitrary application of the law 🙂

  2. I have mixed feelings reading your story.

    FEHD is definitely wasting tax payers’ money by deploying some 20 staff members to handle one case. Simply absurd.

    I’m all for al fresco dining and flexible seating. To be able to sit outdoor while enjoying good food is something that I and many of my friends enjoy. However, we always worry if the residents living above will get upset at us. We did discuss about this. To be frank, we all concluded that we would not want to see a restaurant take up the open space where we live. We do not want to zigzag through tables and chairs and sometimes half drunk diners to get to our apartment buildings. We would not have the level of tolerance of the nuisances that those people living upstairs have to bear. We all hate to see the likely drop in value of the property due to the deterioration of the environment.

    Anyway, being a philosophical person who likes to dig into the cores of things when analyzing issues, I would point out that there is a lot of food for thought here –

    * Why do Hong Kong people especially shop and restaurant owners believe that it is their right to use the public space at their shop front? Why do they all automatically extend beyond their shop and put boxes of merchandise to sell or tables for their customers to dine – on space that belongs to the public? They have this right and a right of convenience just because they run their business on a ground floor premises? If a restaurant or shop owner can do this, can anybody else do the same thing and claim their right to these public spaces? What about those restaurants upstairs? What about auto repair shops? What about foot massage parlors? Why aren’t they entitled to the same privilege? What are the rules that govern who can use where?

    * No doubt while diners are having a good time, the residents above us have to bear the noises coming from our chitchatting, laughter, drinking, partying at these outdoor tables. I just feel sorry for the residents affected by us happy diners. When restaurants go overboard, is there any system for those with grievances?

    * Is there a licensing mechanism for outdoor seating? How much is the annual fee for use of the public space? Is the permit good for one year? Does it require annual renewal like the alcohol permit system so that restaurants not abiding by the rules will lose their permits?

    * If a shop owner rents a shop that has space for say 5 tables, why would this shop owner develop a business plan and profitability projection using an unrealistic number of tables that is beyond the rental area and sometimes quadruple the original rental space – so that when he cannot get what he wants then the government is to be blamed? If we rally for such ground floor restaurants who can grab free public space for profit, are we being fair to those that are not as aggressive and bold and stay within their rental space as law abiding business?

    * I’m all for al fresco dining but in reality I know this issue is not a simple one-sided matter as your report has it.

  3. Anyone with strong SCMP contacts fancy trying to get some investigative journalists to look into FEHD corruption? Why do the seafood restaurants continually remain free to operate without prosecution?