Philly Steak Shop Can Keep 'Please Speak English' Signs

Statement political, no service denied: panel
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2008 5:10 PM CDT
Joey Vento, owner of Geno's Cheese Steaks in Philadelphia, speaks in Hazleton, Pa., Sunday June 3, 2007.    (AP Photo/Steve Klaver)
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(Newser) – The owner of a Philadelphia institution can keep signs that ask customers to order their cheese steaks in English, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. A city agency ruled the signs at Geno's Steaks—"This is America. When ordering, please speak English"—do not violate discrimination rules; owner Joey Vento says he never turned away customers and just wanted to make a political point.

"The bottom line is that I didn't do anything wrong," said Vento, thrust into the national spotlight when the case began nearly two years ago. One witness likened the posting to "whites only" signs in the segregated South, but Vento drew support from people leery of the growing immigration. "They made me famous throughout the world," Vento said. "I became a hero." (Read more Philadelphia stories.)