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Geno’s Owner Joey Vento meant more to Philadelphia than just cheesesteaks

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Joey Vento, the owner and founder of Geno’s Steaks  on 9th and Passyunk, died early this evening of a massive heart attack.Joey Vento, the owner and founder of Geno’s Steaks  on 9th and Passyunk, died early this evening of a massive heart attack.Photo: www.jasievangesen.tumblr.com

Vento was no stranger to health issues recently, having underwent surgery for colon cancer  last November.

The 71 year-old, who opened up Geno’s in 1966 across the street from rival Pat’s Steaks, was at times a controversial figure to some. In 2006, Vento publicly rook a stand against potential patrons who failed to speak proper English  when ordering from his establishment.  

A sign saying “This is America. When Ordering, Speak English” could be seen at Geno’s prior to ordering. Despite his firm stance, Vento went on record saying that nobody had been refused service, but there was a chance they could possibly get the wrong sandwich.


Although some didn’t like his stance regarding certain issues, Vento was known for his philanthropic efforts as well as his generosity in helping and supporting causes, including local police in Philadelphia as well as near his home in South Jersey. This is evident anytime you go to Geno’s and see the picture of fallen Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Though Faulkner will have been deceased for almost 30 years in a few months, Vento and Geno’s continually offered support for Faulkner’s family through various fundraisers.

 

The cheesesteak is the sandwich that best defines our city’s culinary landscape. The pictures of the hundreds of celebrities (Oprah Winfrey, former President Bill Clinton, and Shaquille O’Neal to name a few) who adorn the walls of Geno’s proves that. While Pat’s may have “invented” the steak sandwich, Joey Vento and Geno’s helped bring it to the forefront.

He will be missed.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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article photo: www.jasievangesen.tumblr.com