October 1st, 2007
04:38 PM ET
7 years ago

Giuliani to make 'English only' cheesesteak stop

Giuliani plans a stop at the famous Geno's steaks later Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – It's almost a necessity for any presidential candidate who swings through Philadelphia - making a stop at one of the city's famous cheesesteak shops.

But the landmark Philly restaurant former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani plans to stop at later Monday is also famous for another reason: its controversial 'Please speak English' sign.

Joe Vento, the owner of Geno's Steaks, sparked controversy last year when he put up a sign at his store proclaiming, "This is America. When Ordering Please Speak English."

Rachel Lawton, the executive director of the city's Human Relations Commission (HRC), blasted the sign in June 2006, saying it amounts to discrimination against those who cannot speak English. A hearing on the sign was scheduled last Wednesday but was postponed because the city wanted more time to review Vento's motion to dismiss the case, according to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

Giuliani, a Republican presidential frontrunner, has taken a hard stance on illegal immigration, formally pledging last August to solve the problem if elected president.

According to his Web site, Giuliani also proposes that all "immigrants who want to become citizens must truly read, write, and speak English and learn American civics."

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Christopher

    I find it disgusting that in the United States of America english is still not the legal language. I am 100% in favor of the government enacting a law that states all places of business must display there signs in english, and secondly another language if desired. In every country on the planet there languages are displayed first, and proudly. I laugh at those that believe that making english signs into law is discrimination. That is a COMPLETE joke. The only reason that in America today English has not been officially declared the official language of the United States is that to many persons of foreign status, ie immigrants, have positioned themselves into branches of government. Secondly is the fiancial costs associated with enacted such a law. Regardless, it is an embarassment that we have yet to enact our official language. Ah yes, then there are those that say, oh, your prejudice etc., which is also a tool once again used by those promoting what they believe to be "just and fair". The fact is that I am quite the opposite. Reality is that LIFE IS NOT FAIR, this is the United States of AMerica, and our founders spoke english. SO be the reason that wnglish must be the official language. I can assure you that our founders never imagined anything different.

    October 1, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. Maya

    "Please Speak English?" How about Mr. Vento learn another language (or a few words in another language) to win more Spanish, Italian or Chinese customers? Or are we just lazy now?

    That mentality of 'English only' is what is so backward in the US... You go to any touristy place in Europe/Middle East/S. America, and you are bound to find someone who can converse with you in English to sell his business, whatever that may be. Geno's is not some unknown, whole in the wall...its world famous. I hope PAT's picks up on this and learns how to speak to all its customers.

    October 1, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. junie swan, pittsburgh, pa

    Thank heavens one of the candidates has his priorities right!

    October 1, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I don't care where he eats but I agree with the shop owner...speak ENGLISH, this is, after all, AMERICA. If you want to live and work here then you need to speak ENGLISH.

    Why can't a law be passed requiring all employees in the United States be required to speak English. Especially fast-food establishments and manicure/nail salons!

    The U.S. has now come to the point where Caucasian Americans are a minority.

    October 1, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. Lou, Miami Florida

    Let's start with the President of the United States. If we had at least required that the president spoke English we would not be in the mess we are in right now. Just last week he said:

    "As yesterday's positive report card shows, c h i l d r e n s do learn when standards are high and results are measured." –George W. Bush, on the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2007

    October 1, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Justin, New York, NY

    OMG, my great grand parents made it a point to learn english after moving to America LEGALLY and tought it to my grand parents. It wasn't because of some sign in a restaurant either, it is common sense! You speak the native language of the country you are in. I wouldn't expect to move to an area of France where a lot of Americans live and get by ONLY on English.

    October 1, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Bob

    And Rudy is the front runner for the GOP Presidential nomination?? According to the 2000 US Census, there are about 35 million Hispanics living USA – most of which are voters. If we forget Rudy's snub at this eastery, the Democratic candidate will be sure to remind us.

    Karl Rove, even though I dislike him, is a political genuis. He warned Bush that in order to win the 2004 Presidential election, he needed at least 40% of the Hispanic vote. Bush really went all out and courted Hispanics. He won in 2004. Rudy has forgotten this important lesson.

    October 1, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Bernie Mingus, NY, NY

    Absolutely, use English – not another language – you come here to live, learn the language. I'm voting for Giuliani.

    October 1, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. David B., Sterling, VA

    Is Rudy too deeply embedded in the current anti-immigrant lunacy to see the irony of a man named Giulliani eating at a place callled Geno's because it is "English only."

    At some point America will pull out of its current xenophobic paranoia, but until then I guess we have to put up with political buffoonery like this.

    October 1, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. Indiana

    Go Guiliani now stick to it under pressure and not back down. I for one feel discriminated against every time I have to deal with someone who's english is so broken up it takes 15 minutes on the phone saying what I can't understand you just to find out at&t wants to offer you more services good gried this is America supposedly these people come here for a better life you know anywhere else you go people learn the language of the land but not here in Amexicana.

    October 1, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Gerald, Atlanta, GA

    Do you think Geno's or Rudy's parents (grandparents) could order sandwich in English?

    October 1, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Bill Bryan, Peoria, IL

    If you were a visitor, I would try to deal with the language problem as best as I could. If you LIVE here or WORK here or WANT to become a citizen (or eat at this establishment) then LEARN and SPEAK English. NO ONE should be able to become a citizen unless they read, write, speak and know ENGLISH.

    October 1, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. name city

    I absolutely agree with the restaurant owner. Why should he have to hire people to speak a foreign language. What has happened to this country. Wake up people – "English" is our language here in our country.

    October 1, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Gregg, Bismarck, ND

    It's his business. Let him deal with the consequences whether they are positive or negative! Instead of choosing not eat at that particular steak house, someone will do they adult thing and sue or force a meeting (give me a break). If you haven't been raised to handle being offended, someone made a mistake.

    October 1, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Sybil

    Yeah, and if Obama gets in everyone will be complaining about how incompetent he is for the next four years. Don't you think for yourselves or you just go along with the crowd? Even Reverend Al doesn't trust him.

    October 1, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. Carrie, NY, NY

    Just by reading these blogs, I can tell where people live. If you live in a community with little or no illegal immigration it's easy to understand why you would feel his sign is wrong. If however, you live in an area of the country where it's impossible to order a freaking whopper without a pickle because everyone at the Burget King only speaks Spanish you tend to get a little frustrated. I say "Go Joe". If you are going to come here and live in this country, learn and speak English. And for all the idiots talking about tourists, I seriously doubt the intention was to imply that every tourist should speak English.

    October 1, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. josh

    Giuliani stopped at that eatery in Philly because it is THE place that invented the Philly Cheese Steak. For those that have never been to Philly, there is always a line out the door and onto the sidewalk of people waiting to eat there. I would have to question the intelligence of CNN or any other person who believes he went there for any other reason.
    BTW After inheriting a recession from Clinton, the Bush tax cuts have pushed the DOW to an all time high today.

    October 1, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Mark, San Diego, CA

    "immigrants who want to become citizens must truly read, write, and speak English and learn American civics."

    Hmmm... Do you think Grandpa and Grandma Giuliani would have passed this test when they got off the boat? Also, FYI, the majority of born-Americans don't know "American civics" themselves, and a huge number can't read and write English. Should we kick them out, or just insist that our new immigrants must be smarter than ourselves?

    October 1, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. Debbi Altieri

    When in Rome.... I say hear, hear to Joe Vento. Im a registered Democrat , but I believe Mr Guiliani will get my vote . On the opposite end of the English speaking issue it infuriates me that when I go out to eat, often times the person taking the order does not speak English , and I end up with the wrong thing . Speak your native tongue at home. In public SPEAK ENGLISH !!!Both sets of my grandparents were from other countries and managed to learn the language , and raise children who became great contributors to their communities . Believe me I was raised with a full knowledge of my roots including both languages . I agree that to become a citizen reading , writing , and speaking English is a must. If you want to drive, the test should only be in English . If you cant read freeway signs etc. you shouldnt be driving .

    October 1, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    You people seem to be missing the fact that Mr Vento hires spanish speaking workers,that's why he had to put up the sign. If you went to France and encountered an american working in a similar situation you'd no doubt converse in english as it would be easier. Mr Vento should put a Berlitz book on the counter and say "my employees are prohibited from using spanish,use this book". It wouldn't take too much time to teach them how to order. Don't condemn the ignorant,teach them.

    October 1, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Daniel O

    Ok! English be the official language. Then
    What will be the official faith?
    What will be the official race?
    Next you'll want the native indians to comply with all these foreign cultures.
    RIDICULOUS!!

    If its not in the constitution, it doesnt exist.

    October 1, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Julie, Seattle, WA

    I have gone to many countries and all of them have the attitude that we must speak their language. They make no bones about it. There is a very real reason for this. They CAN'T cater to every language on this planet. There are currently over 6000 languages spoken on the planet according to YourDictionary.com. It would financially cripple a country's legal, government and business communities. English has been the predominant language in this country for hundreds of years now. Making everyone learn a new language every time there is a surge of immigrants from a specific country would be extremely expensive and confusing.

    October 1, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Dara Tinton Falls, NJ

    I think every store should have that sign. If you want to live in America, you should speak English!

    October 1, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. Tihor, Chapel Hill NC

    How ironic!! Mr. Giuliani expects the supposed "foreigners" to learn American civics. I challenge him to first teach that to his own current countrymen. The shocking level of ignorance of the average American citizen ought to be a national embarrassment. If he is truely worried about maintaining the "American" culture, let him start with his his own ignorant countrymen. We don't need to worry about any "foreigners".

    October 1, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. Grow, Aye Brain

    Honestly, I'm sick of trying to accomodate everybody else...If I went to another country, I would certainly learn the language. Regardlesss if we have an official language or not, don't be a retard and expect people to bend over backwards conforming to your ideals. I'm not liberal, I'm not conservative...I think, therefore I am. Common sense would suggest to learn the common language. And besides all of this, even if I didn't agree with what this man did, he still has a right to do it. Nobody is being deprived of a public good (provided by gov/state) here, no civil rights are in violation. Seriously, grow a brain people, let the man do what he wants, if you don't like it, don't eat there.

    October 1, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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