Cheesesteak King Dies of Heart Attack

A cheesesteak from Pat's.
A cheesesteak from Pat's.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a man who devoted the better part of his life to coating heaps of grilled beef coated with gooey melted cheese, Joey Vento, the owner of iconic south Philly cheesesteak stand Geno's Steaks, has died. Vento, 71, had a massive heart attack and passed away on Tuesday, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. Was it all the cheeseteaks that did Vento in? They make an easy target. Then again, Steve Jobs is a vegan and he's dying resigning.

A second-generation cheesesteak artisan, Vento founded Geno's Steaks in 1966. It now stays open 24 hours and maintains a fierce rivalry with Pat's King of Steaks, located right across the street.

More recently, Vento faced controversy for two small signs he placed in the window of his establishment that read: "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING 'PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH.'" After a public hearing, a three-member panel ruled 2-1 in March 2008 that the signs didn't violate Philadelphia's anti-discrimination ordinance.

[@elinashatkin / eshatkin@laweekly.com]


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