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The long-time owner of Geno’s Steaks in South Philadelphia has passed away.

According to sources, Joey Vento died of a massive heart attack at his home at about 5:30 p.m., he was 71-years-old. Early reports suggest Vento passed away on his way to the hospital.

The controversial owner of one of Philadelphia’s premier cheesesteak shops made national headlines in June 2006 when he posted a sign at the store saying “This is America: When Ordering Speak English.” At the time, Vento said he posted the signs in reaction to the ongoing debate over immigration reform.

According to Geno’s Website, “In 1966, Joe started “Geno’s” with $6.00 in his pocket, 2 boxes of steaks and some hot dogs.”

Joe learned the Cheesesteak business from his father, who in the early 1940′s opened “Jim’s Steaks.”

Sources say, a memorial was held at Geno’s Steaks Tuesday night to remember the owner.


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