Customers React To Removal Of Geno’s Controversial ‘Speak English’ Sign

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On Thursday, there was a brisk flow of customers at Geno’s Steaks in South Philadelphia. It was business as usual, but without a piece of signage that once adorned the window and stirred national controversy.

“He made the right choice,” one customer said regarding the decision to remove the sign.

Controversial ‘Speak English’ Sign No Longer Up At Geno’s Steaks

For at least a decade, this sign which read “This is America when ordering speak English” is what greeted customers. It’s also what forced a hearing years ago by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

Geno’s Owner Joey Vento spoke passionately about the sign’s purpose, before he passed away in 2011. “You can learn a hundred languages,” he said. “We’re just saying, here we speak English.”

Vento’s son Geno has now taken over the family business and has decided to remove the sign. Geno’s Steaks released a statement reading in part:

“While Geno continues to honor his father’s traditions of good quality food, cleanliness and giving back to the community, he has decided that after 10 years it is time to move on. It’s not about the sign. It’s about what you do and what your mark in life is, and Geno wants to change that mark in life.”

Customers seemed to embrace the move.

“We’re here supporting educators of English language learners,” said Susan Johnson as she visited the City of Brotherly Love. “That was the right choice.”

“This nation is very, very diverse,” said Perla Carbajal. “We’re here to enjoy some cheesesteaks, but all money is green, all people bleed red, no matter our language.”

 

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