Victory for 'No English, No Cheesesteak' Businessman

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," March 20, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:OK. Now, it is a story we have been following very closely from the beginning on "Your World." You know him as the cheesesteak king of Philadelphia. And you know his policy: no English, no cheesesteak.

Now, after two years of fighting the City of Brotherly Love and a discrimination complaint that landed him in court, Joey Vento just won his case.

He joins us first to tell us about it.

Joseph, congratulations.

Click here to watch Neil's interview with the 'Cheesesteak King'

JOSEPH VENTO, OWNER, GENO'S STEAKS: Thank you, Neil. And it is an honor again to be back on your show.

We have to make one correction, though. There was no sign that says, you don't speak English, you don't get a sandwich. If you don't speak English, you still get a sandwich. It just might not be what you thought you ordered.




CAVUTO: So, but what -- what did the sign say exactly? I forget.

VENTO: It says: "This is America. When ordering, please speak English."

CAVUTO: All right. So, if someone don't, what did you do to them?

VENTO: We just gave them the next product. I get $7.50, and I give them the next sandwich coming out.

And then he will walk away, or she will walk away, and maybe open up the sandwich and say to themselves, you know what? I ordered a cheese whiz without onions. Here I got a provolone with onions. I think I better learn English.

CAVUTO: All right.

So, now, some looked at that as discriminatory. It made you a very controversial fellow, I know, when we first had you. But, obviously, the city felt otherwise, in a 2-1 vote. So, it was kind of razor thin. But now you have got all these legal costs. Who is going to reimburse you?

VENTO: Well, that is the sad part of it.

Someone can make a charge against you, even though you believe you was right, but have got to spend a ton of money defending yourself for it. And that is a little disappointing. But that's on me, and I take it. And I'm just glad I won, which I always believed in my heart I was going to win from the giddyup, because I never really, truly thought I was saying anything wrong, and we never discriminated against anybody.

CAVUTO: Joey, did you ever do this, though? You are such a savvy business guy. I think you envisioned that, yes, this would be a controversial move. You might have your legal headaches and bills, but this was going to have your business booming.


CAVUTO: There were lines wrapped around your store, right? It was good for you.

VENTO: Neil, we had the lines before that sign went up here. The funny part, the sign was up nine months before it became an issue.

CAVUTO: But, come on, Joey. You can't tell me that, once that sign went up and the controversy over your appearances came up in the national spotlight, you did not have enough cheesesteaks for these people.


VENTO: Yes, but, see, Neil, what happens, like, I get back to the same issue there. The sign was up nine months before it became anything, any kind of an issue.


CAVUTO: By the way, when did it become a sticking point?

Someone noticed it and had their, you know...

VENTO: Right.

Well, I put it up at least -- I have got documented -- at least probably October of '05. In May of '06, they were having immigration talks in Washington about the illegals and English.


VENTO: That is when this local councilman, Jim Kenney, decided that my sign was discriminating and it was offensive, and it should come down. He said that in front of the City Council.

CAVUTO: And then you said, no way, and the battle ensued.

VENTO: No way.

CAVUTO: By the way, this whole illegal immigration debate, unless it changes in the fall campaign, it just sort of died on the vine.

Are you worried about that? Do you have a candidate, a horse in this race? Who?

VENTO: Well, I'll tell you right. I'm disappointed in the three we have up there right now.

CAVUTO: Really?

VENTO: Yes, I am. It is a sad choice...

CAVUTO: If you had to choose between the three of them, who would it be?

VENTO: Well, to be honest with you, if I had to choose, it would have to be McCain, only because, at least with him, you will probably get at least 50 percent conservative.

Then I would take him in the backroom and pound him on his head and get him to think about this immigration problem that he don't want to talk about.


CAVUTO: All right.

But you would give him extra onions if he wanted, right?

VENTO: Definitely.

CAVUTO: All right.

So, before you pound him on his head, extra onions.


CAVUTO: Joey Vento, congratulations. Very good seeing you again.

VENTO: Thank you, Neil. All right.


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