Theodore's World: 'Speak English' Signs Allowed At Philly Shop

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March 22, 2008

'Speak English' Signs Allowed At Philly Shop

Commission on Human Rights rules Geno's postings do not discriminate

msnbc for complete article


The owner of a famous cheesesteak shop did not discriminate when he posted signs asking customers to speak English, a city panel ruled Wednesday.

In a 2-1 vote, a Commission on Human Relations panel found that two signs at Geno's Steaks telling customers, "This is America: WHEN ORDERING 'PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH,'" do not violate the city's Fair Practices Ordinance.

Shop owner Joe Vento has said he posted the signs in October 2005 because of concerns over immigration reform and an increasing number of people in the area who could not order in English.

Vento has said he never refused service to anyone because they couldn't speak English. But critics argued that the signs discourage customers of certain backgrounds from eating at the shop.

Commissioners Roxanne E. Covington and Burt Siegel voted to dismiss the complaint, finding that the sign does not communicate that business will be "refused, withheld or denied."

Wild Thing's comment......

Yipee about time!

This is a great update to a psot about this that I did about Joe Vento's place and how it was getting pro and con reactions.

I heard Joe Vento on one of the talk radio shows and he said what he does if a person does not speak English he will give them whatever is at the top of the menu. LOL I love the idea. He is still serving them and they get food, just not what they ordered if they won't order in English.

....Thank you Lynn for sending this link to me.

Posted by Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 02:48 AM


When I worked in the restaurant business many years ago, I got tired of trying to figure out what the customers wanted if they didn't speak english. I finally had them point to what they wanted on a picture we kept under the counter. I got so tired of them getting mad over getting the wrong item or it having something on it they didn't want and stiffing me my tip!
No one coddle our ancestors when they came here! They had to learn english or they didn't make it--plain and simple.
Time for us to do the same to those who don't even try. There is no shame in trying and failing, but you have to get back on the horse and try again and keep trying until you get it right.
Speak what you want at home--no one is taking that away from you. But in the real world of America, english is the language.
Bette Midler's character in Big Business said something that has stuck with me since I heard it, "You're in America now, speak American!" Funny but true.

Posted by: Lynn at March 22, 2008 07:10 AM

The vote should have been a unanimous 3-0 in favor of the signs, but in this day and age of political correctness this result is good enough.

Joe Vento has a right to run his business the way he wants to. It is not his obligation to understand dozens of foreign languages. Joe has a great fighting spirit and I am glad he finally prevailed. I sure would like to try one of his cheesesteak sandwiches.

Lynn. If you were a waitress then I know you were a hard working gal. I can understand your frustration with people who do not have even a grasp of English. And then to blame you for any mistake is just wrong.

Posted by: TomR at March 22, 2008 07:51 AM

And since when can't a business refuse service to someone who is disorderly or drunk this happens all the time.

It is a private business afterall. There are plenty of lawsuits complaining that a Bartender gave some drunk too many drinks and that caused an accident.

This is typical government intervention trying to blame somebody else for the drunks actions.

So now the drunk sues the corner store for selling him the beer or wine, this is nuts. These left wing nitwits want to remove all responsibility from the personal actions of a few.

Posted by: Mark at March 22, 2008 12:18 PM

Absolutely!!! Thanks Lynn.

The wife and I had a very late breakfast last Monday at a restaurant I used to frequent near the port, I was a regular there for breakfast while I worked at the fabrication yard nearby. It's a hard core working class place, English spoken only!!! Nothing has changed in over 20 years, same good food, a different waitress still doing the work of two and keeping her sense of humor. Thanks for being a waitress Lynn, I do know what you had to put up with. I've worked with many ethnic backgrounds, I have been called in and counselled for being racist and callous, I had one person who I quit answering questions for, I'd just point to the Websters on the shelf anytime the lazy bum would ask an assinine question. I have all the time in the world for someone trying their best to learn but zero tolerance for the slackers.

Posted by: Jack at March 22, 2008 02:16 PM

The fact that speaking English only has become a legal battle shows how far this country has drifted off course. The way things are going, I can envision situations where English won't be allowed and perfectly legal with the support of the ACLU.

Posted by: Les at March 22, 2008 03:02 PM

Lynn, you know first hand how it isi, thanks for sharing about that. And that was a good movie, and a good line from it too by Bette Midler. Perfect for this.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 04:05 PM

Tom, I agree, he was so exicted when I heard him on the talk show. He read the papers from the court and the whole thing. I am so happy for him and what a shame he even had to be put through any of this.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 04:07 PM

Mark, it is so wrong and your right about it being all government intervention.

When I had my gift shop in Calif. I had a sign on the wall by the check out desk. That I could and would refuse service to anyone signed Management. haha Thank God no one caused a fuss. I never had touse it but I would have if something needed to be done.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 04:12 PM

Jack,yes I can understand that. When a person is trying to learn it makes a difference.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 04:19 PM

Les, yes that sure could happen.

I just don't get it, there are tons of other languages of immigrants and all the rest want to learn English. Only Spanish has been the problem one. Maybe they have a big lobbyist thing or something, it is just wrong.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 04:21 PM