Denny’s Daily Zinger: Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks? NOT Geno’s!

Click here to enlarge photos of Geno's and Philly cheesesteak history.

Last week’s column featuring Philadelphia’s three great cheesesteak emporiums: Jim’s, Pat’s and (most famously) Geno’s, generated correspondence about which cheesesteaks are the best.
My answer: NOT Geno’s.

Joey Vento’s legacy
Geno’s was founded by Joey Vento, grandson of immigrants.

In 2006, Joey Vento, 66, posted a sign in the window:

This is AMERICA
When Ordering
“SPEAK ENGLISH”

The media jumped all over the story and Joey Vento became a celebrity.

Reveling in his 15 minutes of fame, Vento vented to myriad reporters about the brouhahas he generated. Each reporter had a new USP (Unique Selling Proposition):

immigration • illegal immigration • free speech • racism • English only, ESL, etc.

Where Joey’s chief rival was “Pat’s King of Steaks,” Joey Vento became Philly’s King of Discord.

The media adore a badass.

Joey Vento’s 15 minutes of fame lasted five years. At age 71, he assumed room temperature—the result of a heart attack.

The lede of Joey’s obit in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Joey Vento, the impresario of cheesesteaks whose “speak English” sign at his South Philly sandwich shop made him famous to some, infamous to others, died Tuesday of a heart attack.

Takeaways to Consider

  • If you do something controversial, it will be the lede of your obit. This is how you’ll be remembered forever. Examples: Richard Nixon and Fatty Arbuckle.

To come: Bernie Madoff and Bill Clinton.

  • “Do you want to make a statement or do you want to make money?”

Marty Edelston, Founder, Boardroom

Denny Hatch is a copywriter, designer and direct marketing consultant. You are invited to click on the title and read the first three chapters of Denny’s new book: “Write Everything Right!” (PDF) No cost. No risk. No obligation. Contact him at: dennyhach@yahoo.com.

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