Geno's Steaks

Infobox Restaurant
name = Geno's Steaks

image_width = 300px
image_caption = Geno's Steaks
established =1966
current-owner =Joe Vento
head-chef =
food-type =North American cuisine
dress-code =Casual
rating =
street-address =
city = Philadelphia
state = Pennsylvania
zip =
country =United States
seating-capacity =
reservations =
other-locations =
website = [ Geno's steaks website]

Geno's Steaks is a Philadelphia restaurant specializing in cheesesteaks, founded in 1966 by Joe Vento. Geno's is located in the South Philadelphia neighborhood at the intersection of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, directly across the street from rival Pat's King of Steaks, which claims to have invented the steak sandwich in 1930. The cheesesteak has become a signature dish for the city of Philadelphia, with Geno's laying claim to being the first to put cheese on a steak sandwich.Fact|date=December 2007 Geno's has also become well known for the large neon signs atop the establishment.Fact|date=December 2007


According to Joe Vento, the name "Geno's" was chosen because "Joe's Steak Place" was already in business. He improvised the name from a broken door on which someone had painted "GINO" and modified the spelling to prevent confusion with a regional fast food chain called "Gino's". Vento later named his own son Geno, and the latter now works in the family business. [ [ Welcome To Geno's Steaks - The Best in South Philly ] ]

The walls, roof, and interior of Geno's are decorated with memorabilia and hundreds of autographed and framed photos of celebrities and obscure talents who have patronized the venue.

Geno's was awarded Best of Philly for Best Takeout by "Philadelphia Magazine" in 2000. In April 2004, a branch of the shop opened in Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies. This location was closed in 2006 and replaced with Rick's Steaks (operated by Rick Olivieri, grandson of Pat Olivieri, founder of Pat's King of Steaks).

Vento is a supporter of the family of murdered police officer Daniel Faulkner. The family supports the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of Faulkner's murder, and publicly opposes the movement for the retrial or exoneration of Abu-Jamal. Geno's has sponsored several fund-raising events in support of Faulkner's family, including the 2000 First Annual Justice for Daniel Faulkner Block Party Fact|date=December 2007 and an annual Daniel Faulkner Memorial Motorcycle Run. [ Daniel Faulkner Memorial Motorcycle Run Northeast Times]

English sign controversy

A sign on Geno's window gained press notoriety in 2006, during the immigration controversy. The sign reads: "This Is America: When Ordering Please 'Speak English'." The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations filed a discrimination complaint, arguing that Geno's violated the city's Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodation, by "denying service to someone because of his or her national origin, and having printed material making certain groups of people feel their patronage is unwelcome."DeHuff, Jenny, The Bulletin, 26 September, 2007. [ "Hearing Postponed For Controversial Geno's Sign"] . Accessed 28 November 2007.] Vento had previously said the signs are directed at the Mexican immigrants in the surrounding neighborhood. [Campisi, Gloria, Philadlephia Daily News, 10 June 2006, "Free speech at steak."]

Vento says no one has been refused service for not speaking English, but said, "If I can't understand you, you might not get the sandwich you thought you ordered."

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations found probable cause that the sign is discriminatory. The commission says the sign could make non-English-speakers feel unwelcome or discriminated against.Maykuth, Andrew, Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 February 2007 "Stakes get higher for Geno's".] Vento enlisted the aid of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a public-interest legal organization. In 2006 the Foundation had defended a bar owner cited by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for a sign reading "For Service, Speak English." That case was settled when the owner removed the sign. [Maykuth, Andrew, Philadelphia Inquirer, 8 February 2007, "City Commision: Geno’s 'speak English' sign discriminatory".]

Responding in an interview with Fox News analyst Neil Cavuto, Vento stated that he does not turn away any customer, and therefore does not discriminate.Fact|date=November 2007 He also vowed to keep his sign displayed no matter how much pressure he receives.Fact|date=November 2007 He explained to Cavuto that his parents had to learn English when they came to the U.S. He said that if his customers order in any other language, he'll give them Cheez Whiz on bread. Vento posed some rhetorical questions: "If one goes into a Puerto Rican neighborhood, how many signs would be seen in English?," and "When one is on the telephone, it may say press 1 for English, press 2 for Spanish; but where is the number for, say, Italian or Korean?"

After the story gained national attention, Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney said, "He went on his little act and hit the talk shows. He's like a legend in his own mind. He's spun it so that he's a martyr in people's minds in order to gain financial benefit. He's a selfish individual." [Goodman, Adam, The Daily Pennsylvanian, 23 February 2007. "This is America, fight real injustice."]

On March 19, 2008, Philadelphia's Commission on Human Relations ruled that the restaurant did not violate the city's Fair Practices Ordinance. [ [ Agency OKs cheese steak shop's English-only signs - ] ]

External links

* [ Geno's steaks website]
* [,15114,455236,00.html Fortune magazine article on Geno's Steaks and Pat's Steaks]


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