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Greek food market trader battles against ‘unfair’ eviction

Eleftherios Mikes had been selling Greek food from a stall at the Saturday market near the Bargate.

But in June, a family emergency meant he had to pause the business for a couple of weeks.

This was discussed with market organisers The Village Pop-Up whom he said were understanding about the situation.

But when he returned a month later, Eleftherios found his stall had been replaced. He says he was given “no reasonable explanation” as to why.

The Village Pop-Up claims Eleftherios’ company “repeatedly breached” their terms and conditions – something the market trader denies.

The 37-year-old is now fighting against the eviction with friends and fellow business owners, Emma Moreira and André Moreira.

Daily Echo: Eleftherios Mikes, Emma Moreira, and Andre Moreira inside Gaia Health StoreEleftherios Mikes, Emma Moreira, and Andre Moreira inside Gaia Health Store (Image: Newsquest)

Eleftherios said: “There were a lot of issues which I explained to The Village Pop-Up.

“I was told it was all fine and that I should take my time.

“It was mid-July when I came back to keep the business going, but the organisers changed their mind.

“I was told another trader with the same food was found and had been put in my place.”

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The Village Pop-Up has confirmed there are no plans to reinstate Eleftherios’ stall, Pitta Pitta, also known as Greek Servings, to the market.

But it refused to confirm whether the business had been replaced with another food stall.

A spokesperson said: “As an enthusiastic company, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to operate a weekly market around the historic Bargate monument.

“Unfortunately, Greek Servings repeatedly breached our terms and conditions, and we were no longer able to accommodate their stall on the market.

“However, we would encourage the community and the public at large to come and check out the market and the great selection of international cuisine and wares available as we are now open Friday to Sunday every week.”

Eleftherios said he disagrees with the claims made against him.

He said: “I don’t have conflict with anyone. All of this is just words.

“I was not trading after my family issues. In my contract, it states traders must give one month’s notice to stop trading unless it’s an emergency matter.

“This was an emergency matter. They did acknowledge it was an emergency.”

Daily Echo: Eleftherios Mikes and Emma Moreira inside Gaia Health StoreEleftherios Mikes and Emma Moreira inside Gaia Health Store (Image: Newsquest)

Emma Moreira of Gaia Health Store in Carlton Place is helping Eleftherios battle the decision.

The 40-year-old said: “We were on holiday when we heard what was going on.

“Since then, we have been trying to support him through this unfair eviction.

“The council has really stuck its head in the sand and don’t have any sympathy for a trader who has worked on their land for nine years.

“We have tried to work it out amicably.”

Eleftherios added: “I have supportive signatures from the traders, a lot of good character references.

“When I told them about the emergency in June, I was told how much my help with the market was appreciated.

“I was in a terrible way, and this has really affected my mental health.

“My business has been destroyed in a click of their fingers.

“The council doesn’t care at all either.”

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Eleftherios is keen to trade at the market to see the return of his regular income but is hoping someone else takes on the reins.

The public tender for the market is available to bid on in September.

Both Emma and Eleftherios are hoping a different company bid for it.

Southampton City Council has confirmed it is aware of the incident.

A spokesperson said: “We are aware of a situation involving the Village Pop Up, the operators of the weekly market near the Bargate, and a stall holder.

“The council deems this to be a private matter between the two parties, and for resolution to be sought by those parties.”

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