Joey Vento of Geno's Cheesesteak
GLENN: And I said, what's wiz? And you just looked at me like, oh, you rookie. Joey Vento is here, and he's in trouble. He has been for how long? How many years has this been?
VENTO: It's five years now it's going on.
GLENN: Five years. You put a sign up at Geno's Cheesesteak that says?
VENTO: This is America. When ordering, please speak English.
GLENN: The problem is nobody likes that. Nobody wants that. How dare you, you racist hate monger you. And you've been, for five years you've been fighting and you've won. Have they ever taken you actually to court?
VENTO: The human relation committee took me to court and I won.
GLENN: Okay. But it doesn't stop there.
VENTO: Oh, no. Every day they come back still to thwart me, to call me a racist. And the biggest thing is that it's the Mexicans now come. They wave their Mexican flag in front of the store or they call me a racist. In fact, I just got notice the other day, people were coming up telling me I'm known now as the racist steakhouse in Philadelphia because of my stand on English.
GLENN: Hang on just a second. Hang on just a second. It is really interesting that a guy from Philadelphia — do you have the audio from the Black Panther from yesterday? Because I believe he's from Philadelphia, is he not? Yeah.
GLENN: The guy who says speak English is a racist.
PAT: But wait. What race is English? What race is that language?
GLENN: I'm not really —
PAT: I was just curious.
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GLENN: Okay. So he's a racist, but this guy? No, the government has no problem with this guy.
VOICE: I hate white people, all of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate him. We didn't come out here to play this game. It's too much serious business going on in the black community to be out here sliding through South Street with white, dirty cracker whore [ BLEEP ] on our arms and we call ourselves black men with African garb on. What the hell is wrong with you, black man? You had a (inaudible) with a white girl on your damn arm. You want freedom? You are going to have to kill some crackers. You might have to kill some of their babies.
GLENN: Okay. So going to kill some of their babies and again you're — I don't know if they are going to continue to let us broadcast. Joey, your hate speech was again?
VENTO: My hate speech? Speaking English? How did that become a hate speech?
GLENN: Whoa, whoa, whoa!
PAT: Speak English.
GLENN: Slow down! Slow down! Jeez, listen to the hate speech coming out of that guy! By the way, the kill cracker babies, that's fine, but Joey —
PAT: That's okay.
GLENN: — you are a menace to society.
VENTO: Isn't that amazing?
GLENN: It's amazing.
VENTO: It's amazing.
GLENN: The same city, the same city. Now, what is happening with you? Because they are coming in and they're fining you? This is my favorite law, ever. Go ahead.
VENTO: All of a sudden Geno's Steaks, everybody knows I have the cleanest joint in the city. But all of a sudden —
GLENN: It is, it's amazing.
VENTO: All of a sudden — you know, the city came out one time not long ago where they say they were lucky if they can get around to inspect every restaurant every two and a half years. I've already had four different inspections in less than a year.
GLENN: Four of them.
VENTO: Four of them. Oh, yeah. I told you one of the violations was I had my bracelet that my mom gave me before she passed away and the necklace that my wife bought me and that was considered excess jewelry making the steaks. So that's a violation.
GLENN: Excess jewelry?
VENTO: Excess jewelry.
GLENN: All right. Hang on just a second. I want you to turn the camera to the other side and I want you to be able to see — show everybody the medallion for the Insider Extreme. I mean, that is as big as my son's head.
VENTO: There's the bracelet from my mom.
GLENN: There's the bracelet from your mom. And that's excess?
VENTO: That's excess jewelry making your steak sandwich.
PAT: What if those had fallen right into the steak? I mean, could have killed somebody dead.
GLENN: You'll never be able to fly again: I'm sorry, sir, the metal detector is going off. I know, I've got a giant medallion.
PAT: Geno's medallion. Joey Vento dropped a medallion in my steak.
GLENN: All right.
VENTO: But listen, Glenn. They just picked the wrong guy. I'm too old and stubborn to back off. I put my money where my mouth is. I built that business with the $6 I had in my pocket when I started 43 years ago. And this the greatest country in the world to allow a guy like me, with diversity, with lack of money and a family reputation, I achieved the American dream. And that's what we want for everybody to come into this country. It's just that when you come in, we want you to come in the right way. You don't sneak across the border. You come here the right way, you play by our rules.
GLENN: How did your family come in? Did your family come in through Ellis Island?
VENTO: Ellis Island, the same thing.
GLENN: All right.
VENTO: And here, just want to walk across the border, I'm totally against that. I'm totally against the anchor baby problem that we have in this country. I don't know. Our government has to be as guilty as the illegals for allowing this to happen.
GLENN: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
VENTO: All you do is tell them if there's a way you can sneak across the border and pop that baby out, it will be American citizen and we'll pick up the tab for the rest of their life.
GLENN: Yeah. We're the only country in the world that does that and we started it for good reason. It was started during reconstruction. It was started after the Civil War to make sure that nobody was going to play any games, et cetera, et cetera. But that time has passed. That time has passed. We're not worried about slave immigrant — or slave children anymore. We're not worried about that. It is now being abused.
VENTO: That's correct.
GLENN: All right. So now you are doing a fundraiser in Philadelphia at Geno's next week?
VENTO: That's right, July 14th from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
GLENN: Love this. Love this.
VENTO: We're going to be doing, this here is a fundraiser because Joey Vento and Geno's Steaks supports Arizona's law and I say every chance you get, people, you want to go on vacation, go to Arizona. It's a great place. I was there myself personally. Ask your going to love it there.
GLENN: All right. So your fundraiser, you are raising funds for — I mean, you are just going to send an envelope of cash down to Arizona?
VENTO: Whatever way we can get the money there, through e‑mails, it's going to come through. We're going to have a dunk tank. Maybe I can get the mayor, put him in there, we should draw a lot of money.
GLENN: Mayor of Philadelphia?
VENTO: Mayor of Philly.
GLENN: I don't think he likes you.
VENTO: No, he doesn't.
GLENN: I have a feeling he doesn't like you. All right. So it's at Geno's all day? What day is it again?
VENTO: It's July 14th from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Dom Giordano's.
GLENN: All right. So we'll —
VENTO: I'd like everybody to come down.
GLENN: You got it. We'll see you again. Thank you very much.
VENTO: Thank you.
GLENN: Thank you very much and thanks for the cheesesteaks. All right. We'll be back in just a second.
GLENN: I'm sorry, just having cheesesteak. Sure, it's 10:00 in the morning but having a cheesesteak. Joey Vento from Geno's Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia is here and I asked him to stay because in the commercial break I went — we were having a conversation and he said, Glenn, you know, the reason why I stand up so strongly, the reason why I am the way I am is because of what I overcame. And I don't know what you feel comfortable sharing on the air here, but if you will share what you shared with me off the air. This is the most incredible story I think I've heard.
VENTO: Well, like I said, growing up, you know, I had everything, you know. Me and my dad, we had a steakhouse in that same neighborhood that I'm at now and my father's place was called Jim's steaks. And I worked at a very young age at that time, 8, 9 years old, 12 years old, I was running businesses with my dad. And at the age of 18 I decided let me go in the Service, you know, and kind of lock horns with my dad a little bit like we all do. So I figured take a little break. I'm 14 — while I'm in the Service, there's a man that evidently owed my father money and my father gets him whacked.
GLENN: Now, was your family, was this just — I mean, I've never had this conversation with anybody before. You know, I've seen him — is this a Soprano situation? I mean, how do you ask somebody that?
VENTO: Well, unfortunately my father made a bad move there. It was a bad decision. I come home.
VENTO: A very bad decision.
PAT: Was that just a random like out‑of‑the‑blue thing or was he involved in —
VENTO: No, no, it was just out of — random. My father was a businessman, you know, and for whatever reason. But I came home, tried to salvage a business which was hard because I go visit my dad. Now, my dad, he wants me to go after the two guys that went after — that ratted on him. I said, Dad, why would you want me to do that and wind up in jail? And my father kind of disowns me there. He divorced my mom. So we kind of lost everything. In fact, I opened up a few places on my own locally, corner stores and just couldn't quite make it. And I decided to come back into this neighborhood. And at that time there was a steakhouse called Joe's steaks there, which was our competitor, along with the pat steaks and my father was Jim's steaks. And I talk about this because I love my family. I didn't condone what my family did, but I loved him, you know, and I'm doing this because I had to pay a price for that.
GLENN: You didn't, you didn't follow in the footsteps and didn't play the game that the family played.
VENTO: No, no.
GLENN: You were — and your family, I'm guessing, was not popular with police officers.
VENTO: No, because my brother, unfortunately, never got along with cops. And my brother probably invented the drug business, Steve Vento, standup guy. And I love my brother. We were tight. He had his way of life. He was, you know, he wasn't a bully type guy. In fact, later on when he died, he died in '91 at the age of 49 years old.
GLENN: Holy cow.
VENTO: Right. He was in prison most of his life for either drug‑dealing — in fact, he tried to break out of Eastern Penn with a mercenary. I think it was $700,000 he paid to the mercenary who in turn, they go to the Feds. Of course, he chickens out. Now, his son has to get involved and —
GLENN: Same story is repeating itself.
VENTO: Right. Now, his son takes over. He escaped not knowing that the mercenary is FBI agents. So they have to go through the motions to get the conviction. And the deal was he's going to lower the ladder and his father would have certain markings on it. Well, if anybody else comes up, no, no, we shoot them. And we also bring the rockets. And what was the rockets for? To blow the four towers, okay?
GLENN: Holy cow.
VENTO: But there's always something, good comes out of something and you don't realize it. Years later — in fact, it must have been maybe a year and a half ago, Dom Giordano does a show down at my store and this black guy comes in. He's got a young black boy with him. He says, Mr. Vento, he says, could I talk to you for a minute? I said, yeah, what's the matter? He says, I was in that yard the day your brother was planning that escape. He says, and all I could say is, that one crazy white boy.
VENTO: He said, I'll tell you just like it was. He says, I got my black ass and I sat down at that wall and I didn't move, he says, but after that happened, I came out and I said to myself, I'm never going back to jail and here's my son. And this kid brought up, spoke beautifully, raised him. He said, and I learned, your brother taught me a lesson. Some things bad, there's always something good comes out.
GLENN: Amen, brother.