EXPIRED: 08/23/11 – Joey Vento, 71, set up his cheesesteak sandwich shop in 1966 directly across the street from rival Pat’s King of Steaks, which claimed to have invented the Philly Cheesesteak in 1933. He called his new Geno’s because Joe’s Steak Place was already taken. The battle between Geno’s and Pat’s is legendary – but that’s wasn’t the least of Vento’s controversies.
Whether it’s publicly and vehemently calling out for the death sentence for local cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, or posting a sign at his takeout window that reads “This Is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING Please ‘SPEAK ENGLISH,” there was no question which side Vento was on.
When Vento claimed that the signs were directed at Mexicans living nearby, a discrimination complaint was filed arguing that Geno’s was “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.” Vento’s rebuttal? “If I can’t understand you, you might not get the sandwich you thought you ordered.”
He added that if his customers order in any other language, he’ll give them Cheez Whiz on bread.
In 2008, it was ruled that Geno’s did not violate the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance.
But that didnt stop Vento from having a heart attack. Too much of his own cooking maybe? Maybe the stress from being involved in the Tea Party movement?
I have to say, I did love the food at Genos’, it just didn’t love me.