Philadelphia cheesesteak shop changing controversial name

Joe's Steaks and Soda Shop

March 29, 2013 3:00:08 PM PDT
The owner of a historic cheesesteak shop in Northeast Philadelphia says he's changing its controversial name.

Chink's Steaks owner Joe Groh says he'll change the name to Joe's Steaks & Soda Shop on April 1. For years, civil rights groups have protested the current name because of its reference to a racial slur.

"This is the year 2013 and we've had controversy in the past. I want to put it behind me and change the name," said Groh.

The shop on Torresdale Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia opened in 1949. It was named for founder Sam "Chink" Sherman, who died in 1997. His widow told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2004 he was given the nickname by neighborhood kids.

Despite the fact that the change is scheduled for April Fools' Day, a news release from a public relations agency representing the shop says "This is no joke."

Asian-American groups have long petitioned for a change. Several years ago, however, thousands of people signed a petition in favor of keeping the original name.

Now that change will come. Long time and life time customers found the coming change hard to digest.

"Things today are a little crazy. Everything has to be so politically correct; I think that people are a little too sensitive," said John Meo.

"That's the guys name, it doesn't bother me any. I don't see any harm in it," said Mark Lewandowski.

Others say they understand why the owner chose to make the change.

"I understand people do have a problem with it. It's not meant to be offensive but if some people take it that way I understand. He has a business and he wants to make it grow," said Brian Pylant.

Groh says not to worry - the menu and environment will stay the same.

"I just want to tell everybody that it's the same sandwich, the same staff, the same ownership. Nothing is going to change but the name," said Groh.