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Regulars rue racist-sounding Philly cheesesteak shop's renaming

Cheesesteak sandwich


Do the usual rules of political correctness apply to fast-food restaurants, even when it's really bad for business?

As reported by Gawker, the offbeat issue is currently being debated in Philadelphia, a.k.a. the City of Brotherly Love, in connection to a once-popular local restaurant currently struggling to adapt to a name change.

Last April, the 64-year-old Philadelphia cheesesteak institution known as Chink's Steaks changed its name to Joe's Steaks, presumably because the former is a racist term for people of Asian descent.

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Current owner Joe Groh explained that the restaurant's original owner, Samuel Sherman, was known as "Chink" to his friends and customers because he had "almond-shaped eyes" reminiscent of an Asian person. A former employee, Groh bought the business from Sherman's widow in 1999.

And the place stayed Chink's Steaks until three months ago. According to Groh, the decision to change the name initiated a huge negative backlash from customers.

An online petition to keep the old name drew more than 10,000 signatures. Groh says that disgruntled clientele keep painting the word "Chink's" on the sidewalk outside the restaurant.

More concerning for Groh, however, is the fact that Joe's Steaks is steadily losing customers in its working-class Philly neighbourhood.

Groh recently told the Philadelphia Daily News that business at his formerly bustling eatery was down 10 per cent in June and 15 per cent last month. Groh says that he is thinking of moving the restaurant to another neighbourhood.

In an interview with Daily News reporter Stu Bykofsky, Groh was asked whether he wanted to change the restaurant name from Chink's Steaks to Joe's Steaks in the first place.

"In all honesty, no," replied Groh, who also conceded: "I am Joe. It's 2013. It was time to do it."

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