Philadelphia’s Commission on Human Relations on Wednesday dismissed a complaint filed last year after the owner of a famous Philly cheesesteak shop posted a sign asking customers to “please” speak English. The commission ruled that Joey Vento, owner of Geno’s Steaks, never suggested that he would refuse service to non-English speakers. The commission’s chairman filed a complaint saying Vento’s sign—which reads, “This is America. When ordering please speak English”—but Vento called the charge “ridiculous.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
What the commentators said
Finally, “vindication,” said Gloria Campisi in the Philadelphia Daily News. Vento always said he was only trying to make a political point as Mexican immigrants moved into the neighborhood around his shop. He said, after all, that he had nothing against immigrants, except illegals, but only wanted newcomers to learn the language of their adopted country as his family did when they came from Italy.
Well, he did say, “please,” said the Dethroner blog. And “it’s his shop.” But, with critics saying even a polite English-only message makes some people feel unwelcome, “I’m not sure how I stand on this.”
The sign clearly violates some basic rules of Business 101, said Misti Sandefur in the blog Ten Ways to Fail. Here’s one: “The customer is someone you have to put up with.” You’d think a business owner would want to make a connection with a new pool of potential customers, instead of chasing them away.