A History of Geno’s from the Inside: A Half a Century of Service

A History of Geno’s

Geno’s Steaks will celebrate its 50th Anniversary this year.  That is pretty amazing.  If you read the statistics about restaurants you will learn that most go out of business in less than a year.  It’s not easy to run a restaurant, and it’s certainly not easy to feed the masses.  Geno’s has done just that for the last 50 years, and even managed to become an icon of Philadelphia in the process.

If you come to Philly, you get a cheesesteak. Period.  Joey Vento founded Geno’s in 1966 with a few hot dogs and two boxes of steaks.  Jimmy Red came aboard in 1973, and has been there ever since.   Jimmy is an amazing wealth of information about the neighborhood, the business, and about people in general.

One of the things Jimmy remembers best is that the neighborhood used to be very industrial.  Over the years, that has changed.  East Passyunk is now a bustling, fun, vibrant young community. Though despite the change in neighborhood, Geno’s has made such a name for the restaurant that the consumers make it a point to educate themselves. “People used to think it was just a piece of meat on a roll.  They all know how to order now.  They know what wiz wit means.”

In a time where there are so many options and so many different cheesesteaks, Geno’s still remains the leader.  Jimmy is quick to remind us why, “We have the absolute cleanest restaurant and the best sandwiches.  We use the best ribeye meat and we have amazing rolls.  We have never changed the tradition, it always stays the same.”

If you stop by Geno’s, one thing you will surely notice is the amount of celebrities that have visited.  We asked Jimmy who some of his favorites were.  He told us two great stories, “One night, Chris Rock came in and put me in a headlock.  Another night, Tyra Banks wrapped her legs around me.”  That is definitely a highlight that will not be forgotten.

Jimmy was also quick to point out what a great founder and leader Joey Vento was, “He absolutely taught me everything I know.  He so quietly helped so many people.  He always gave people a hand up.  Never a hand down.”  He also echoed that Geno himself has kept the tradition strong and continues to provide amazing leadership for a whole new generation.  It truly is a family here.

Stop in and say hi to Jimmy when you get a chance.  And oh by the way, Jimmy says his secret tip is to try the new roast pork.  It is amazing and you will be happily surprised.