Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The English Cheesesteak

So apparently Geno's Steaks, a big Cheesesteak shop in Philly, has a signs in the restaurant reading: "This is AMERICA ... WHEN ORDERING SPEAK ENGLISH." For some reason I'm not aware of, this is considered discriminatory.

The city's Commission on Human Relations Rev. James S. Allen Sr. tells us that "We think it is discriminatory, and we are concerned about the image of Philadelphia." The commission is trying to get the signed removed. They are claiming that Geno's is violating two city ordinances: "denying service to someone because of his or her national origin, and having printed material making certain groups of people feel their patronage is unwelcome."

I think it's a bit silly to claim that requesting orders in English is the equivalent of denying service because of national origin. Plenty of folks from all nationalities use English in their everyday lives here in America. However, I also think it's silly to not take business from anyone who can communicate to you what they want, even if it's not proper English.

Personally, I just have one question for Geno's Steaks: Why is the sign written in English? Someone who doesn't speak English isn't going to understand the sign anyways. How are they going to know that they are expected to order in English? I guess that's two questions.


liberalandproud said...

Well said. Coincidentally, while at Barberitos last night, I was talking to one of the managers. He said he'd just gotten a phone call from someone asking if they spoke Spanish (Barberitos is a Tex-Mex type restaurant). I joked that they knew a few words, like burrito, taco, and guacamole. He said, "Yeah, I told them they could probably order in Spanish, or just point." That sounds like the perfect answer to me. BTW, I'm assuming that the person on the phone was calling for someone else.

Fishplate said...

It's been reported that the staff at Geno's will happily walk you through the process of ordering, helping you learn enough English to get a steak wit...only if you refuse the attempt to speak English will you be refused service.

Laddi said...

I wonder how many f bombs will be included in that tutorial.
Non-english customer #1: Hi, two plain cheesesteaks, but no... F8888in onions.

Customer #2: I like, ah, a f888in diet Coke, please.

This should be a lesson in hilarity.

hillary said...

Do y'all think Geno's actually has a major problem with non-English speakers trying to order cheesesteaks?

Patrick Armstrong said...

I don't think there was a problem with non-English speakers, I think this is probably one guy's chosen response to the Immigration Debate. I think it really is a non-issue, a molehill that someone with an agenda is trying to turn into a mountain.

However: Ahreckon datolboy wuddunt take mah dadgum oarder iffin Ah tol'em Ahwannar cheesteak sammich when Ahad mah Alabamer up. Uppity damnyankees.

Laddi said...


Yous guys take that #@$#@$ @#$!@#, and shove up yorwa #@!#@, you hillbilly sud'ern redneck. Whez dat sud'ern hospitality?


petallic said...

This is an issue of politeness for me. When I'm in another country, I try to order in their language. If I fumble, they are generally very sweet about it, helping me to say it correctly.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but I don't think the fumbles are tolerated as good-naturedly across these fine states. I've never had anyone in a foreign country be rude to me for my feeble attempts. Not once, ever. Except the French, but they don't count. So yeah, never.

But if I walked into an establishment that asked me to speak their language, I wouldn't mind. I'd just take a minute to study the menu first, with my handy dandy pocket dictionary, and figure out my order before holding up the line. Or I'd just point.

Ordering in a foreign restaurant can be quite daunting though. I've broken a sweat on many an occasion trying to determine the difference between meats in countries where the meats were questionable. While I personally make the effort, I do think it's a bit rude to make the experience even more unpleasant, not to mention unfriendly, as possible.