Joey Vento

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Joey Vento
Born (1939-12-18)December 18, 1939
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died August 23, 2011(2011-08-23) (aged 71)
Shamong Township, New Jersey
Cause of death Heart Attack
Nationality Italian American
Known for Cheesesteak chef
Founder of Geno's Steaks

Joey Anthony Vento (December 18, 1939 – August 23, 2011) was an American cook and restaurateur, who founded the cheesesteak restaurant Geno's Steaks in 1966, starting a longtime rivalry with neighboring restaurant, Pat's King of Steaks.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Joseph Anthony Vento, a third generation Italian American, was born in Philadelphia to Eva and James Vento. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade to assist his father in running a restaurant.[1]

Restaurant business[edit]

Vento opened Geno's Steaks in 1966 on the corner of 9th and Passyunk,[3] starting a longtime rivalry that is ongoing with Pat's King of Steaks. His restaurant is considered one of Philadelphia's Big Three cheesesteak establishments and is open 24/7.[1] Vento serves his cheesesteak without chopping the steak[4] and believes provolone is the preferred cheese to be added.[5]


Vento has been accused of discrimination on multiple occasions against Hispanics and immigrants who had trouble speaking English.[6]

In 2006 his sign which stated "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH." generated controversy and received attention from the Commission on Human Relations for possible violation of Philadelphia's ordinance due to discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The ruling in 2008 stated the sign was not in violation of ordinance. Vento has denied accusations of racism stating he has never turned away anyone on the basis of race or language.[7][8]


Vento died of a heart attack on August 23, 2011 at his home in Shamong Township, New Jersey. He was 71 years old and is survived by his wife Eileen Perno, sister, Marie Vento, and brother, James.[1] Ownership of Geno's Steak was passed to his son Geno whom he named after the restaurant.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Dennis Hevesi (2011-08-24). "Joey Vento, Founder of Cheese-Steak Institution, Dies at 71". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  2. ^ David Whitford (2003-06-01). "Sandwich Superheroes Philadelphia's cheese-steak kings have fought for more than 30 years. Now they can't imagine life without each other". CNN Money. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  3. ^ "The history of the Philly cheesesteak". 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2016-09-06. 
  4. ^ "Deck’s Cheesesteak Challenge – Pat’s vs. Geno’s". Deck on food. 2010-07-17. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  5. ^ Mucha, Peter. (23 May 2008). "Whiz on a cheesesteak: Hit or myth?". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Johnny Goodtimes (2011-08-25). "A Few Thoughts on the Death of Joey Vento". Philly Mag. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (2011-08-23). "Geno's Steaks Owner Joey Vento Dies in Philadelphia". Fox News. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  8. ^ Emily Langer (2011-08-25). "Joey Vento, Geno’s Steaks founder, dies at 71". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  9. ^ Victor Fiorillo (2013-08-30). "Joey Vento’s Dying Wish: Keep "Speak English" Sign at Geno’s". Philly Mag. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 

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