News today that Geno’s in Philly, a landmark place for cheese steaks, has won its court battle over their policy of not serving people who don’t order in English. I didn’t look into it much, but it seems to be a pretty dumb fight to me. I mean it’s a private business, they have (or should) the right to serve or not serve someone if they can’t understand the order. If I go into a Chinese restaurant and order in German, are they compelled to bring me exactly what I want? And how do you order a “Philly Cheese Steak” in another language without using that phrase?
Anyway, the court battle is over and you can now require that people order from your menu. But the people at Geno’s are still a bunch of jack holes. When I ordered a cheese steak with peppers, mushrooms, and swiss cheese, the guy asked me if I really wanted “all that crap” on there. I guess it’s supposed to be part of its “charm” (people were more friendly in Russia), but to me it was just lame. And it’s not like they’re the only game in town. Pat’s is right across the street and has (IMHO) a better product.
So hats off to you, Geno’s, you can now reserve your dumb comments for those who can understand you. Score one for efficiency.
I’m back with a new post — this time from the Good Ol’ U S of A, blogging about a place I’ve been sent for work. I have been wanting to blog about these business trips, but I didn’t really feel like I had a good angle. So I figured one out. I realized that I’m always wondering what there is to do and eat when I’m in a new city. So I’ll write about that, in case somebody else is wondering and happens to stumble upon this blog. So here goes…
I’m staying downtown by Independence Hall. The building is under renovation but still looks impressive and is probably fairly similar in style to a European town square. But there aren’t really any cafes and the streets are open to traffic. Welcome to the car culture.
The city is laid out in a grid which makes things much easier to find and lets me meander with a little less time spent trying to get back to a place. South Street is a pretty cool place to walk around. It’s one of those hip neighborhoods where the hypocritical folks tend to live — the ones who want more social programs and higher taxes but do all they can to horde more for themselves. But it also has some places that cater to the tattoo-and-piercing crowd, with whom I’m usually more comfortable. They’re too busy trying to be different from everybody else by being similar to their friends to pay much attention to me.
I also walked down by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is where I got this great shot. There’s a King Tut exhibit going on for another week or so. I didn’t go in since it was getting late, but it looked pretty interesting.
I walked around Chinatown and it reminded me of being in that country. The sights and smells were truly authentic. Unfortunately the Imperial Inn where I ate had probably begun in the 1970s as a unique little restaurant catering to Americans and had stopped caring even about that quite a while ago. I regret passing by several great little shops where English menus were available as an afterthought. Small markets have live seafood and all of the fresh Chinese vegetables you could ask for. This was my first experience in a Chinatown after coming back, and at times I felt almost like I could have closed my eyes and not been able to tell the difference between that country and this.
If you come to Philadelphia, you HAVE to have a cheese steak. And if it’s your first time, you’ve got to go to Pat’s and Geno’s. Brian and I went down there and grabbed one from each place and split them. I loaded up the Geno’s version and Ottav left his Pat’s plain. The staff of both places can be a bit surly, but it seems like Geno’s staff goes out of their way to be rude, rather than Pat’s whose staff do it with good humor. You’ve got to at least try one of each just to say you’ve done it, but overall I liked Pat’s a little better I think.
I spent some time in a little section of town called Port Richmond. It is a nice little area that feels like a cohesive neighborhood. People know each other and greet each other warmly on the street. The two places where I ate were good, but I forgot their names. The neighborhood has quite a few Polish immigrants and one place was run by a Polish woman. The people I was with told me that I had to order in Polish and I surprised them when I actually did! Well, really I just said “Please that” and “plus this” and “thank you.” But that’s probably more than most people know!
Overall, Philadelphia is a great city. But it has its problems, too. People seem a bit more rude here in general (hey, it’s the North), and there are bums everywhere. I never really felt unsafe walking around, even after 8 or 9 in the evening.