A victory for Geno’s cheesesteak shop
Via ABC 6 Action News:
PHILADELPHIA – March 19, 2008 (WPVI) — The owner of Geno’s Steaks, Joey Vento, and his “Please speak English sign” appear to have been vindicated by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
The beef was over a sign that says “This is America please speak English when ordering.” Critics said it was discriminatory, but today the city disagreed.
While the debate about this sign posted on the order counter window rages on, the question of its legality has now been made clear. The Commission on Human Relations says it doesn’t violate the city’s fair practices ordinance.
Jimmy Curry of Geno’s Steaks says, “We always knew we were going to win. Joey didn’t do anything wrong. We never refused anyone service.”
“I think that the sign is 100 percent right,” said Linette Painter from King of Prussia. “You’re in the United States of America… I speak English.”
But critics, including Councilman Jim Kenney, say the sign discouraged people from different backgrounds from eating at Geno’s. He says he never wanted the city government to get involved but believes the sign insinuates intolerance.
“I think the sign is rude. I think it is mean spirited and I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the city promoting us as a tourist destination both nationally and internationally,” says Kenney.
Greg Liautaud of Long Island, New York agrees with Kenney. “I think it’s wrong. I think it’s discriminatory and I probably wouldn’t have eaten here if I saw that.”
Yeah, but I bet many more would eat there and have eaten there because of Geno’s policy on speaking English.
The Philly Daily News has more:
Critics charged that Vento had put up the signs because an increasing number of Mexicans had moved into the neighborhood around the steak shop.
Vento said that he was disturbed only by “illegals,” who were taking jobs from Americans.
Vento acknowledged that his grandparents were Italian immigrants, but said that the family was forced to learn English when they came here.
He said he’d gotten a lot of support via letters and e-mail, but others had harassed him. “They come by, call me a racist,” he said.
In addition to yesterday’s vindication, Vento said that he’d like just one more thing: an “apology” from Mayor Nutter.
Vento said that Nutter had declared during his election campaign that the signs should be taken down.
Nutter spokesman Doug Oliver had no comment.
“Nutter”? Somehow, that sounds fitting
Wanna show your support for Geno’s? Click here. For background on the controversy, go here.