Oh, Geno

|

Speaking of iffy citizen immigration protests… Philadelphia's landmark cheesesteak shop, Geno's, has made English the official language of ordering heart-stopping meat sandwiches.

[Owner Joseph] Vento, who lives in Shamong, put up the signs when the immigration debate seized national headlines six months ago.

With Geno's Steaks tattooed on his arm, Vento is used to publicizing things, especially what's on his mind. Speak English signs also poster his Hummer. He has driven through South Philadelphia blaring through the SUV's P.A. system denunciations of neighborhood business owners who hire illegal immigrants.

"I say what everybody's thinking but is afraid to say," Vento said.

I've been to Geno's, although I prefer the neighboring Pat's. I'm not sure if the experience of shooting through a line and uttering a sentence fragment like "Swiss cheese with" (cheesesteak with Swiss cheese and onions) is a meaningful test of English skills. I'm pretty sure I've wanted to be clear about the ingredients and pointed at what I wanted, which according to Vento is annoying and un-American.

NEXT: The Perils of Tobacco Teetotalism

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It seems like he’s saying pointing alone is what’s bothering him. I suppose he figures his grandparents assimilated, why shouldn’t newer immigrants. Swiss with (if you’re Kerry) might seem like a sparse bit of english, but it’s more than most of the drunks can muster at 3:00 am.

    Pat’s better than Geno’s? I have to disagree. i used to walk the extra 100 ft or so to get to Geno’s. It was even better right around sunrise.

  2. I think the whole speak English thing is getting out of hand.

    If people don’t want to learn English and live in this country, then they are restricting their potential for interacting with the citizens of the U.S. and taking advantage of all America (yes, I said America) has to offer.

    If a business owner only wants to deal with English speaking customers or clients, then he is restricting his potential for a wider source of clientel and a higher profit margin.

    You’re on your own.

  3. Speaking of speaking English, how awkward is this??

    “Speak English signs also poster his Hummer.”

    Is poster a verb?

  4. Good for him! He should feel free to act on his irrational, xenophobic, self-destructive urges.
    I have no problem with a private business turning away customers because he doesn’t approve of their language skills, origin, etc.

    Of course, when I’m in town, I’ll feel free to take my business to a different proprietor…

  5. Thank you Clean Hands! We all agree that you are a libertarian!

    Maybe Geno and the owner of Pittsburgh’s racist restaurant can be the founding members of a coalition devoted to these issues.

  6. Geno’s subs suck anyway. Pat’s King of Steaks is better, but Dino’s Subs in Margate, NJ puts them both in the shithouse.

  7. The best part is the quote in the end of the article:

    “They want us to adapt to these people. What do you mean, ‘Press 1 for Spanish’? English, period. Case closed. End of discussion. You better make it the official language.”

    Yeah, we have our share of idiots here. But I liked the article itself. It would present an opinion held by Vento and then explain why he’s 100% wrong, while pretending not to take sides.

    And IMO, the best cheesesteaks are not to be found at Pat’s or Geno’s, but Chubby’s in Roxborough.

  8. I hope his shop burns down.

    That said, he should be closed by the city immediately.

    We have no national language.

    Does he serve mutes? No?

    Fuckin’ scumbag.

    JMJ

  9. Yeah but does Geno serve Freedom Fries with his Cheesesteaks? I think his patriotism is in question if he doesn’t.

  10. CORRECTION:

    You wrote, “Philadelphia’s landmark cheesesteak shop, Geno’s…”

    I think you meant to say was, “Philadelphia’s landmark cheesesteak shop, Pat’s…”

  11. And as a basic rule of thumb, if it’s called a “sub” or is sold along with subs, it’s not a good cheesesteak.

  12. Does this mean that individuals incapable of coherent speech, either due to being deaf or damaged vocal chords, are barred fromo using sign language? Sure, they could be using American sign language, but that’s hardly the same as English.

  13. If this guy is launching a political campaign because he doesn’t want to take the time to learn Spanish, what do you think are the odds that he understands sign language?

  14. See, JMJ, that’s what’s wrong with you. You wish the guy ill, instead of just buying your subs elsewhere when you cross out of Joisey into Philly.

    Take a chill pill, you turkey.

  15. Yeah but does Geno serve Freedom Fries with his Cheesesteaks? I think his patriotism is in question if he doesn’t.

    Geno’s is the one and only place I’ve ever been to that serves freedom fries. And birch beer, too. Mmmmmmm.

  16. I grew up on Geno’s but have been a firm Pat’s man for awhile now. Really, I find the debate a little silly. And as for Dino’s, well, it’s that great Atlantic City bread. I used to work for the owner of Dino’s son outside of Philly and we imported the bread every morning from AC. You could literally put crap on that bread and it would be fantastic.

    Seriously, though, both Pat’s and Geno’s are crazy when it comes to ordering. With lines typically stretching around the corner, I can understand why they’d be upset when it takes someone 5 minutes to say “cheese with” (or wit). But the reality is that it’s mostly the English speaking yokels on vacation that hold up the works and not immigrants.

  17. I believe Geno’s actually serves “Mumia Fries”. Seriously.

  18. “That said, he should be closed by the city immediately.”

    Of course Jersey because in America we have no freedom of speach. How dare he be allowed to be an asshole!!!!

    JMJ you are the only one I know who can attack an idiot like this guy and come out looking dumber.

  19. It sounds like he wants to limit his customers to locals, if he thinks “cheese with” counts as an English sentence.

  20. Lucky for Geno-Xeno-phobe, his Italian forebears had the time and money to enroll in an English as second language course before making the trip across the Atlantic! The only good that can come of this asshole is that his extremely stupid position might make some people with brains see the idiocy of his proposal and examine their own lazy, knee-jerk reaction to the issue of immigration.
    Philadelphia ought to be real proud of this asshole using their city’s name to promote hatred and ignorance.
    On the other hand, he deserves some credit for cleverness if he really sells “Mumia fries”…does PA use the electric chair?

  21. How long before he’s dubbed “The Steak Nazi”?

  22. I’m not sure if the experience of shooting through a line and uttering a sentence fragment like “Swiss cheese with” (cheesesteak with Swiss cheese and onions) is a meaningful test of English skills.

    it’s a test of lameness, and you pass.

    either whiz or provolone
    /the more you know

  23. Philadelphia ought to be real proud of this asshole using their city’s name to promote hatred and ignorance

    wouldn’t the libertarian position be to support a merchant’s right to sell to whoever the hell he wants to and to accept the consequences to his business?

  24. wouldn’t the libertarian position be to support a merchant’s right to sell to whoever the hell he wants to and to accept the consequences to his business?
    And our right to call him a hypocritical asshole.

  25. it’s a test of lameness, and you pass…either whiz or provolone

    No steak for you!

  26. Real English speakers aren’t exactly sure where “Fulluffya” is.

  27. “I say what everybody’s thinking but is afraid to say,” Vento said.

    Well, I’m not afraid to say what I’m thinking: you’re a faccia di merda, Vento.

  28. Albo, No libertarian (except maybe Jersey) would advocate that the gut ought to be shut down.

    However, it might be a legitimate concern of the other 20,000 business owners in Philadelphia that the guy’s chief product uses their city’s name and that their firms might be indirectly smeared by the verbal feces spewed forth by this asshole.

  29. Geno’s subs suck anyway. Pat’s King of Steaks is better, but Dino’s Subs in Margate, NJ puts them both in the shithouse.

    I believe the inevitable outcome is the same no matter what…

  30. How long before he’s dubbed “The Steak Nazi”?

    Not long. http://logannphilly.blogspot.com/2006/05/steak-nazi.html

  31. “his Italian forebears had the time and money to enroll in an English as second language course before making the trip across the Atlantic!”

    Really? And I thought they were poor farmers.

  32. Subs in Fulluffya? The preferred nomenclature is Hoagie, please. Lee’s Hoagie House – Ham and Capicola – God I miss them.

    You can get a decent steak just about anywhere Amaroso’s are available. I always liked Jim’s Steaks on South Street with the grill vented right out onto the sidewalk. Talk about advertising!!!

  33. Geez Luiz, how come all the Dagos are such racists?

  34. You Philly boys want a real damn cheesesteak? Drive down to Wilmington and hit Casapulla’s on Route 202…

  35. For those folks who aren’t familiar with Philadelphia cuisine, there’s more background in the short documentary “The Great Cheesesteak Debate,” on the DVD “Full Frame: Documentary Shorts: Vol. 3” available from Netflix.

  36. The Cheesesteak Shop
    1716 Divisidero St.
    San Francisco, CA 94115
    awesome

    Vento’s doing what he wants, it’s legal, good for him, it’ll be like an IQ test. We should all stifle the urge to poison his Cheez Whiz.

  37. Tim is right that Dino’s (and The White House too for that matter, now that they’ve resolved their death feud with the neighboring baker) are better than Pat’s or Geno’s, but its not really a fair argument. There is a cheesesteak, which is what Dino’s serves, and then there is a Philly Cheesesateak. Philly Cheesteaks are by their nature a low class product. Sort of like Spam or Little Debbie deserts. It’s patently unfair to bring Dino’s into a discussion about Philly Cheesesteaks.
    And was David being intentionally subversive when he used as an example, “Swiss cheese with”? First, its “wit” not “with”, but more importantly, everyone knows that only out of touch, snobbish, billonaire Presidential canidates request Swiss Cheese on their Philly Cheesesteak.

  38. JMJ wrote:

    “I hope his shop burns down.
    That said, he should be closed by the city immediately.
    We have no national language.
    Does he serve mutes? No?
    Fuckin’ scumbag.”

    Wow. I love watching so-called libertarians show their true colors. I can’t wait to live in JMJ’s libertarian hell-hole, where freedom of association and private property are superceded by multi-culti PC.

    I hope JMJ builds a restaurant, then is promptly sued for failing to put up a handicapped ramp, EVEN THOUGH THE BUSINESS IS NOT YET OPEN. That happened in California. I guess that guy was a bigoted scumbag, too.

    Not to worry, though. Mass immigration will tilt the political balance in this country so far away from the small government/libertarian model, that libertarians like me will be thought of as having a mental disorder. And the views of Geno’s libertarian critics will be completely smothered by the regulatory state. On that day JMJ and his “libertarian” cohorts can celebrate; provided they do it in private.

  39. Paul Pennyfeather,

    I realize almost no one is still reading this thread, but for those who may not know…

    Please do not imagine that JMJ is a libertarian or in any way speaks for libertarians. He is a well-known foil for libertarians on this forum and is in toto possibly the most antilibertarian commenter to be found here.

  40. Provalone!! Swiss Cheese!! Speak English man.

  41. Funny! An elderly Italian-American hothead is so consumed by his nativism that he prefers to make a stupid political statement by TURNING AWAY customers!!! This clown clearly has ravioli for brains!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.