Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Can You Say Pat's In Spanish?

I don't like cheesesteaks. Don't like the consistency of the meat, and the Cheese Whiz they ladle on the meat looks just plain nasty.

But if I did like cheesesteaks, I wouldn't buy one at Geno's .

As reported today by my colleague, Gaiutra Bahadur , Joseph Vento, who owns Geno's, said he would refuse to serve customers who couldn't say "cheese" in English. "Why should I have to bend?" he asks. I have a business to run."

Well, Mr. Vento, I would argue it makes good business sense to serve your Spanish-speaking customers since a majority of them live in your neighborhood. And while it is your right, as a businessman, to refuse the right to serve anyone, it's quite another thing to parade around town with "Speak English" signs in your truck and admonishing business owners for hiring illegal immigrants, blaring it over a p.a. system. That's straddling the line between free speech and hate speech.

So, for those of you who crave a 'steak and happen to be in South Philly, do yourself a favor. Skip Geno's and patronize Pat's King of Steaks, which is located directly across the street at Ninth and Passyunk.