Inhospitality in Philly

posted by Adam (Southern California) on June 8th, 2006

Geno’s has instituted an English-only cheesesteak-ordering policy.

As a mitigating factor, “Vento said his staff is glad to help non-native speakers order in English and has never turned someone away because of a language barrier.”

Does Geno’s have any bilingual workers? If both customer and worker speak the same language, doesn’t it slow down business to force them to translate their order into English?

The article only talks about language problems vis-a-vis immigrants; what about foreign tourists?

And what, exactly, is the point of this policy, anyway?

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6 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On June 8, 2006 at 17:43 Mike (Worcester) said:

    Competitors are seizing on the controversy.

    Back when I ate meat, I always liked Pat´s better anyway.

    One thing I wonder when people say, “This is America, Speak English,” is what do they expect the mute to do? Is American Sign Language acceptable at Geno´s? How about just pointing?

    If I were doing anti-jingo organizing in Philly, I wouldn´t picket Geno´s. Instead, I´d get a handful of people together to order at Geno´s, pretending to speak no English and to be too stupid to be coached through the process. You could tie up the lines forever.

  2. On June 8, 2006 at 17:50 Adam (Southern California) said:

    Also, it’s not like learning how to order cheesesteaks is all that difficult in any language. If I had a cheesesteak place, I’ll bet I could learn how to understand a cheesesteak order in a bunch of different languages pretty quickly. In high school, I learned how to order donuts in Khmer in about 15 minutes. Conversely, if some non-English-speaking immigrant loves Geno’s steaks enough to learn how to order one in English, it’s not really very indicative that he’s suddenly fluent in the language. It’s just ordering a cheesesteak.

    In other words, what this really boils down to is a “we don’t want your business” sign in the window that won’t accomplish anything positive.

  3. On June 9, 2006 at 08:03 Mike Ciul said:

    We ate at Pat’s just last weekend. My wife’s friend Mike was visiting from Texas and he had to have a Philly cheese steak before he left. Another friend met us and warned us against Geno’s because he’d just seen an article in the paper. My wife had never tried Pat’s and she told me it’s much better than Geno’s.

  4. On June 10, 2006 at 01:59 Mike (Worcester) said:

    Rocco seems to have no problem with either inferior cheesesteak or butthead-ery.

  5. On June 11, 2006 at 05:57 Adam (Southern California) said:

    The one time I visited Philadelphia, the first thing I did was drive into a random part of South Philly, find some random place making cheesesteaks, and ordered one (sans cheese). It was delicious. It wasn’t Geno’s or Pat’s.

    It’s surprising how many places here say they serve a Philly cheesesteak that really don’t come close. With some places it seems to be a deliberate bastardization of the regular sandwich, as if adding aioli or a vinaigrette will make people who thought they were ordering a familiar sandwich happy. Other places, like Subway, seem to just be making a mistake, or putting them together based on hearsay rather than seeing one in person.

    Mostly, though, they just don’t get the taste of the meat right. They don’t slice it right, they don’t cook it right, etc.

  6. On June 12, 2006 at 22:59 Victor Morton said:

    In Philadelphia, this IS hospitality.

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