Customers and online trolls have allegedly branded an east London café racist for putting small British flags on their sandwiches.

The owner of the Station 164 in Hornchurch, in the London Borough of Havering, has said that in the two years she had been running the café she had not received any complaints about the two-inch-high patriotic decorations until recently, with much of the abuse coming from online, she told the Romford Recorder.

Mother of one Candy Merret, 30, said that the problem had arisen after the football World Cup and that she was receiving three to four complaints a week.

“I don’t know why people are offended by this,” Ms Merret, who owns the café with her mother Carol Brown, told the newspaper.

“If you went into an Italian restaurant and were given your food with a little Italian flag you wouldn’t complain.”

“We give the flags out with every plate of food that goes out of the kitchen,” she said. “It is just tradition, we are a London themed café, we have St George’s flags and Union Jacks, and the Royal wedding flag all in the café.

“I really don’t understand why people are offended by this. People throw the flags on the floor in disgust, and it just doesn’t make any sense to me,” she added, but noted that “We have some tourists that love it. They take the flags home with them as a memento.”

The Daily Mail reported that Ms Merret said she had received so much abuse on social media that she will close the London themed cafe at the end of August, though it appears from the cafe’s Facebook page that any such comments have been deleted.

A number of social media users had come to the café’s defence, urging the mother and daughter team to keep their business open.

Ms Merret had written on Facebook, “Patriotic and proud not prejudice,” and that posting the little red, white, and blue flags are “not to insult or induce any feeling other than Great British pride”.

“We are a little London cafe, we are British, English and Londoners. We will not feel ashamed to put little flags in our food.

“We will not be stopping. We are patriotic, not ‘pathetic’ as someone called us last week. We celebrate our country,” she said.

This is not the first time that a café decorated to celebrate Britain and her culture and history have been criticised for “racism”.

In January, a Winston Churchill-themed cafe in Finsbury Park, London, had to remove a mural of the war-time prime minister after repeated vandalism from leftist protesters who spray-painted abuse including, “warmonger”, “imperialist”, and “scum” on the decorated wall.

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