Belfast brothers tell of terror at mob attack on cereal cafe in London
The Belfast twins who set up a cereal cafe in London have spoken of the terror as mobs of "anti-gentrification" demonstrators attacked their shop.
Banners were held aloft, cereal thrown at the windows of the Brick Lane premises as well as pigs' heads and flaming torches being brandished.
Alan and Gary Keery told the Belfast Telegraph that when they originally opened the shop, they wanted to take customers back to the comforting days of childhood.
But instead yesterday children were among customers cowering in terror in the shop as the door had to be barricaded against the protesters.
Alan Keery angrily hit out at the protesters, saying he and his brother had started up a business out of nothing.
"There were children there - they were terrified," he told the Evening Standard.
"The staff were absolutely terrified. It was an angry mob throwing paint at the windows. They had torches and pigs' heads.
"There were people shouting about gentrification and taking back east London.
"They'd brought cereal and they were throwing it at the shop.
"I think it's an absolute joke, a bunch of people attacking us. We're a small business. There's other big chain places around Shoreditch - me and my brother started a business out of absolutely nothing and we're trying to grow it.
"We're being targeted as the poster boys of gentrification and that's not our fault.
"London as a city is growing and Shoreditch is no different. It's just a growing city - people are going to open businesses and try things and try to better themselves."
Mr Keery said they had received some abuse on Twitter, but nothing on this scale, which he described as feeling like a witch-hunt.
"I can't agree with what they're doing, the way they are dealing with gentrification," he said
"It feels like it's been taken back to the Dark Ages - an angry mob with fire -it's a bit of a witch-hunt.
"There's paint thrown at the front and they tried to break the windows.
"They were trying to bash the door down - the customers had to barricade the door.
"We get a bit of hate on Twitter but never anything like this."
The Keery twins spent 15 months working on their unique business venture, securing funding and premises and sourcing cereals from America, France, Australia, South Africa and South Korea before opening in December 2014.
They were initially forced to used their own apartment for storage.
The "light bulb" moment for the idea was sparked by a mid-afternoon craving for cereal and being unable to find any.
"There is so much choice for eating out -pizza, Mexican, Chinese, sushi - and yet all I wanted that day was a bowl of cereal and I couldn't get it," they told the Belfast Telegraph.
"The more we thought about it and talked about it, the more we thought it could work as a business. Once we decided to do it, that was it and we just went for it."