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Chink's Steaks changing its name

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  • gaffk Mar 29, 2013 03:10 PM
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http://philly.eater.com/archives/2013...

Chink's will be known as Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop.

Kind of a shame, but I guess I can understand it. Some years ago, a website was soliciting input on the best cheesesteaks in the city. I threw Chink's out there, and my response was flagged for offensive language.

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  1. I saw that. I get it, but is still a shame after all these years.

    1 Reply
    1. re: crazyspice

      Ditto.

    2. As long as they don't change the food, I guess it's fine. Still, some things just make Philadelphia seem more like Philly. Chink's was one of those things.

      1. Why doesn't he call it Groh's Steaks? ;))

        1. He tried to open a branch in South philly some years ago and the Asian community shouted him down. So the good news is that we'll probably see a new location in south philly or center city.

          1. l do not care what they call the place as long as they do not change the food. currently, my only cheesesteak.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Deluca, are you really daydreaming about cheesesteaks? Maybe we should bring you one when we visit...

            2. I will finally get to eat there!
              and i agree that it's a shame. it should have happened a while ago, but i'm glad it's finally happening now.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                I don't think it ever should have happened. And it is really hard for a business to lose so much "brand equity". I predict it will end up hurting the business so much so that they may actually consider changing the name back.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  "Brand equity" in having an ethnic slur as your name? I doubt anyone will be boycotting the place for making the right choice.

                  I don't think I could ever eat in a place with a name like that. I still remember the look on a friend's face when someone screamed that at her.

                  In a city full of great cheesesteaks, their name was only a liability.

                  1. re: Heatherb

                    If you knew the history of the place, and knew that it was the nickname of the owner, you would not think its an ethnic slur. Chinks has been putting out the best cheesesteaks in the Northeast for over 50 years using that name.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      Yes, I know the history. It's still an ethnic slur writ large over his business, even if he happily goes by that name. This isn't some sort of tragedy just because the name has been there for many years. The world changes, and this business owner is changing with it and making a sound and rational business decision to reflect (and respect) the changing sensibilities of his customer base, particularly if he wants to attract younger customers.

                      1. re: Heatherb

                        Political correctness at its worst... it will only end up hurting his business not helping it ... armor had chinks in it in the middle ages. The word has more meanings than simply a slur at asian americans.

                        1. re: Heatherb

                          I guess I'll have to rethink calling my lutefisk/gammelost food-truck" SquareHeads". Seriously, if this guy is selling the best cheesesteaks in the city he could probably call it #%££¥@'s and it wouldn't matter a wit.

                        2. re: cwdonald

                          The above article says it was not a racial slur but a Philly.com article quotes, "That was his boyhood nickname. In 2004, Sam's widow wrote a letter to the Daily News to explain how, as a 7-year-old in 1930 at James Blaine Elementary School, Sam was so branded with the slur by classmates who noted that his eyes were almond-shaped."

                          So, is it ok to retain a racial slur nickname because back in the old days it was ok to walk around and call people "chinks?" At some point in society's progress, I think we need to move on. Granted, the present owner is free to call it whatever he likes but profits may dictate what he does.

                          Before I read the article I had some mixed feelings about it and had thought the name was not based a racial slur. I compared it to folks who are offended by the word "niggardly" which has no common root whatsoever with the racial epithet. Just because a word sounds bad doesn't mean it is. However, I'm now reading two different stories for the basis of the name.

                          Reminds me of elementary school where the word "muktuk" was used in a lesson and after learning the word is an Inuit word for whale blubber, we named the fat kid in the class "Muktuk." It was later shortened to "Tuck" but remained with him all the way through high school, even used by teachers and coaches. Because we were cruel and insensitve when we were five years old, doesn't mean we have to stay that way.

                          Food related, I haven't had one from Chinks only because I haven't found myself in the neighborhood when the siren song of cheesesteaks calls. It's on my list though.

                          1. re: RC51Mike

                            You make a fair point except for the fact that the person embraced the name... that is who he was. By erasing the name you are erasing the name the history the legacy of a great neighborhood shop (and great milkshakes to boot.. ).

                  2. Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins continue to fill their stadium every game. What's the dif?

                    1. If I have understood this issue correctly Chink was the nickname of the previous owner. Not used as a racial slur against him, however inappropriate it may have been. Obviously the initial owner was not insulted nor did he mean to insult anyone with his name. No intent to insult but obviously for some that is the result. All references I have read consider Chink a racial slut. I hope his decision to "not offend anyone" works to his advantage and his continued success. My purchase of some steaks will have no effect on same but is a small token of support.

                      1. Not only is the nickname based on a racial slur, but it is the owner himself who wants to make the change so he can expand his business. Nobody is making him change it. He obviously believes it will make him more profitable because he will be able to open other locations and be freed from a history that, no matter how you try to minimize it by calling it a childhood nickname, is still racist and reflects a shameful part of our history.

                        26 Replies
                        1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                          The fact that the original owner embraced the name and chose to call HIMSELF by it and name his business it makes it not racist. And it is also one of the dumbest marketing moves I have ever seen... take a place that has been around for 64 years, THEN change the name right when you want to expand. Recipe for disaster.

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            This is stinkingly poor logic.
                            The fact that the original owner embraced the name suggests nothing except that he was less respectful of his fellow man than our society expects of decent people today. His poor judgement should be left in the past with all the other shameful bigoted nonsense most of us have moved beyond.

                            1. re: caganer

                              How is it poor subject to select a nickname for yourself. He didnt have to accept it.. Its who he was. To get rid of it is to dishonor his legacy. He wouldnt have accepted and didnt think it was in bad taste.. why should we? And on top of it, its very bad marketing to change the name and destroy any name recognition...

                              1. re: cwdonald

                                I don't see where it's going to hurt his business. His regulars will know of the change, and future customers will not be put off by the name. Would-be customers, previously put off by the name, will now consider the place as an option. The owner is making a very calculated decision of his own free will - and a very savvy one at that. A name change is not the kiss of death for an established business by any means. I've worked in marketing, so I feel pretty comfortable asserting this.

                                And really, when you get down to it, you're talking about the legacy of a cheesesteak shop. The course of history isn't exactly being altered here - rather, a local business will no longer operate under a name that a significant portion of the population finds offensive, if not downright painful. Changing the name isn't caving to PC interests or displaying spinelessness - it is basic decency.

                                1. re: Heatherb

                                  Its caving to people because there was no need to change the name in the first place, and it will not have the name recognition around the city that it did. It makes as much sense as asking Tubby Smith to change his name because it offends corpulent people.

                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                    Do you think he woudl be doing it if it wasn't going to help his business?

                                    1. re: Heatherb

                                      I know marketers make mistakes all the time... remember New Coke?

                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                        if you don't like it, don't eat there. stick with the union league - i hear their crow is quite tasty.
                                        for me, i'm glad to finally be able to eat at... joe's. (i will admit that the new name lacks imagination).

                                        1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                          It's completely forgettable, ( the name) and the food at the Union League is top notch.

                                          1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                            True, but great names have never been part of cheesesteak success: Steve's, Pat's, Geno's, Tony Luke's, John'a. Joe's fits right in. As long as he keeps making a quality product, he shouldn't have any problem. I bet he'll gain a lot more customers than he loses as a result of this move.

                                            1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                              Crow, most thought it to be Cornish Game Hen. "spell check"

                                            2. re: cwdonald

                                              He actually had to shut down his South Philly branch due to the name (now it is Shank's). He is on the record as suspecting that he has been blacklisted from consideration of a location at the stadiums due to the name. So it is a fact that name is a business liability. Obviously it is a risk to change the name of an established business but it is a calculated one.

                                              1. re: barryg

                                                You are right about the expansion but I think he loses all his name recognition.. and his choice of Joe's is so pedestrian as to be forgettable in 30 seconds. Marketing is first and foremost about being top of mind.. like it or not chinks stuck in your memory.. Pats Geno's and Tony Lukes have that kind of top of mindness.. Johns Roast Pork and Steve's Prince of Steaks maybe.. Joes will rapidly lose its name recognition and opening a new branch be it in Philadelphia or the suburbs will not be helped by the link to the lineage of the past. There is a nice piece in todays Philly Inquirer about how his local community opposes him changing the name. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/201...... The next renaming issue that is being considered is renaming the italian market..

                                                1. re: cwdonald

                                                  I agree that it's a poor choice of name.

                                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                                    Is the Reading Terminal Market next? Do trains from Reading still stop there? I think that is confusing.

                                                    1. re: Philly Ray

                                                      Heck change the name of the city.. is this really the city of brotherly love?

                                                    2. re: cwdonald

                                                      You thought that piece was nice? I thought it was sad, and a bit depressing that people in the neighborhood would make racist comments about the area "getting a tan." I think it is admirable that the owner is trying to rise above the area's racist roots (including the giving of racist nicknames) and try to build a business that has a wider appeal on the merits of the food.

                                                      1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                                                        I think it is sad we are losing a name that was not rascist because it was the original owners name that he embraced. I think it is sad that the owner is going to fail because he loses name recognition and I think its sad that the politically correct police have struck again... It is going to be interesting to see if the Italian market's name gets changed due to the changing ethnic makeup of that area... for a city that is built on history we appear to be hell bent on destroying a lot of it.

                                                        1. re: cwdonald

                                                          Nobody is clamoring for changing the name of the Italian Market, the writer for the Inky is just pushing buttons.

                                                          Of course if you want to be historical about it, just call it what the Italian-Americans do: 9th Street.

                                                          1. re: cwdonald

                                                            What politically correct police? It is the present owner who wants to change the name. Nobody is making him. He does appear to have a broader vision of expansion outside of a single neighborhood sandwich shop. It will not work with the name "Chinks" much like an expansion of a place named Sambo, Wop, Slopehead, N**** or any other epithet will work. It's not PC, it's respect for others. Chinks is not a hallowed American institution. It's one of zillions of sandwich shops that dot the city. It's not really, in the scheme of things, a big deal.

                                                            Companies rename and rebrand themselves all the time to relfect changing society, marketing or business focus. Not all of them survive the change but many do. This is not a new phenomenon.

                                                            The Italian Market is not even a close analogy. "Italian" is not a racial slur.

                                                            1. re: RC51Mike

                                                              Agree with you on all major points, Mr. 51... though I did question Northwest Airline's decision to rebrand themselves as "NWA" a few years back. For someone like me who grew up in the 80s, uhm, no.

                                                              oh, and the Italian Market thing was silly. Just one writer - and not someone w/the pull of a Saffron (Or LeBan).

                                                              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                                And I really hated when they changed from National Biscuit Company to Nabisco. Their heritage went right out the window.

                                                                1. re: RC51Mike

                                                                  The corporate name change became official in 1971 but as early as 1901 Nabisco was used on some of their products.

                                                      2. re: barryg

                                                        he's probably correct about the stadiums - and they're right not to have him. they'd be crazy and stupid to have something called chinks among their stands.

                                                        1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                          They should call everything at the stadiums by what they really are.. Aramark...

                                                2. re: Heatherb

                                                  Well said. If I was in Philadelphia and saw this place, I'd probably move on and eat elsewhere. Seeing a sign with a racial epithet just doesn't inspire me to spend my money there.

                                        2. Deja vu all over again?

                                          http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/28/...

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: grampart

                                            And these guys can't even claim it was decades-old legacy name.

                                            1. re: gaffk

                                              http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/2013/... good luck to them.

                                          2. And I immediately thought of Sambo's. The combination of portions of the original founders names.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                              Interesting.. that bring aunt jemimah to mind.. a brand that changed its image but not the name.. http://zmblackhistorymonth2011.blogsp...

                                            2. How do I turn off Chowhound's email alerts for new posts on a thread?

                                              I've been getting emails all day titled "Chink's..."

                                              Now all my coworkers all think I'm a racist.

                                              1. I see the difference, the guy that originally owned Chinks’ wasn’t Asian… it’s treading into a territory… who can call who what.
                                                YOU can’t call ME a “DAYGO” because YOU’RE not Italian… but I can call myself a “DAYGO” all I want, because I AM Italian and I’ve earned that right
                                                (btw, I am Italian and my father is highly offended by ALL the slangs for Italians: Daygo, Goombah, Greenie, Guinea, Wop… )
                                                (that doesn't mean that I don't think it's a shame to see the name go)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                  You see similar sentiment in the african american community with the use of the N word.. common in for the people in the community to use it.. inappropriate for someone outside the community to use it...

                                                2. The fact that there are even people here on this debating and rationalizing about "legacy" and such shows how little political clout Asian-Americans have in the United States.

                                                  Had the "nickname" been descriptive of a more politically powerful minority group, no one would have complained about the name change. At least not publicly.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                    Like a 2-term Asian-American governor of your state? Thanks for visiting Philly.

                                                    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                      You mean the one who declined to run for a 3rd term because of racially-motivated death threats against him and his children?

                                                      http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article...

                                                      Thanks for making my point for me.

                                                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                        Sorry, but I'm not making your point for you (you seem to have forgotten your original point). He was elected twice, and probably would have been again (I lived in Seattle), suggesting in WA State Asians do have significant political power, as they do in other parts of the country where their numbers make up a sufficiently high percentage of the electorate. Why he chose not to run has nothing to do with your original statement that if Asians had more political power in the US then there wouldn't be a controversy over changing the name of a cheesesteak shop in Philly. Contrary to your apparent belief that if it had been called something derogatory against, say African-Americans (not the N-word obviously, but I think we can all imagine several possibilities that might exist in the real world), we'd be having the exactly same conversation as we are having now (despite the fact that African-American have substantial political power in Philadelphia).

                                                        However, if the shop had been called "Sam's" for the last 50 years, and he was changing it to "Joe's", I'm pretty sure we'd be hearing the same complaints, just without any accusations that the complainers are "racist".

                                                        Perhaps the complaints have nothing to do with true racism (or relative political power) after all, and just reflect the fact that people do not liking change or having other people telling them what to do. In a country where we've elected an African-American president twice, and a Chinese-American governor twice, racism is obviously not as big a problem as it once was.

                                                        Anyway, discussing a completely different minority group is getting way off topic for this thread (and I'm surprised the moderators have left this thread go on this long anyway, this being a foodie board).

                                                        To bring my contribution back to the point of the thread: Personally, if I had owned Chink's I would have made exactly the same decision as owner Joe. I suspect that if he has a good product (in my opinion cheesesteaks are a waste of good bread that should be used for the true Philly sandwich, roast pork, so I've never been there!), any short-term negative impact will be outweighed by the long-term benefit. Which is the sort of cost-benefit analysis good business managers make.

                                                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                          "Perhaps the complaints have nothing to do with true racism (or relative political power) after all, and just reflect the fact that people do not liking change or having other people telling them what to do."

                                                          But it could be racial insensitivity. If something is a clear slur and the slurred group has spoken about it for years then complaining about the change can be racially insensitive. It's like the issue w/ the Washington Redskins continuing to call themselves the redskins. The fans don't wanna change the name and maybe are not racist but they are being insensitive to Native Americans.

                                                  2. Ridiculous. I suspect I have more reason than most to be offended by this name but guess what? Sometimes traditions and "old-schoolness" has more value than sanitizing everything to meet modern day standards of non-offensiveness. Never mind that the place was named after its founder. Never mind that the word "chink" has multiple non-racist uses.

                                                    The level of public discourse in the country has fallen to such a state that the first party to be "offended" somehow claims the moral high ground. It's like a European soccer match; the side that fakes injury and cries the most somehow gains the upper hand. You should have stuck to your guns, Chink's. I wouldn't have liked you, but I would have respected you.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                      "Never mind that the place was named after its founder. Never mind that the word "chink" has multiple non-racist uses."

                                                      There is no debate over what meaning "Chink" has here: the founder's nickname was given to him because his schoolmates thought his eyes looked Chinese:

                                                      http://www.philly.com/philly/news/201...

                                                      "The owner, Samuel "Chink" Sherman, had almond-shaped eyes. He had been going by the nickname since grade school."

                                                      1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                        "Chink" doesn't own it anymore. Joe has owned it since 1999 so it is entirely up to him what he wants to call his business. Rather than actually read what Joe has to say, so many feeled compelled to scream "PC" blah, blah. Why no respect for what Joe wants?

                                                        "When Groh purchased the shop in 1999—after working for Sherman since 1979—he kept everything the same, including the recipes and the name. The former owner was a neighborhood celebrity and rebranding at that time would have seriously hurt business. But, now that Groh has owned the shop for almost 15 years, he has built his own cheesesteak legacy and feels it's time to update the name.

                                                        "It is very important to me, my family and the entire staff that we no longer inadvertently alienate anyone in the Philly community," Groh said."

                                                        It sounds like he wants to show some maturity and respect for his community. What is so horribly wrong with that?

                                                        1. re: RC51Mike

                                                          But what about TRADITION? (That was sarcasm.)

                                                      2. He should change the name to "Jink's." Close enough that people will realize that it's the same place, and in a few years no one will remember its unfortunate previous name.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          That's exactly what they did with Darlie's toothpaste.

                                                        2. And I suspect the next decade will see all the "Bubba's BBQ" changed to Bubbles

                                                          1. I'm surprised some people don't get it...all you have to do is put yourself in someone else's shoes. Any ethnicities among the responders? I would feel offended if there were a steak shop named "Guinea's" or whatever racial epitthet fits you in my neighborhood. It's not about multi-uses for the name. The N word also has other uses I believe. It's not big national news or anything, but I think it's pretty obvious this will only help the owner in the long run.

                                                            10 Replies
                                                            1. re: fara

                                                              I have no trouble going to Mick's or Paddy's. But then again, we Irish know we are better than the rest of you, so it doesn't really matter what you call us. ;-)

                                                              If I ever open an Irish pub, I'm going to call it "Bogtrotters". That way you will all be too PC to go, and we can just party by ourselves...

                                                              http://youtu.be/pPLyr2yYdVk

                                                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                Where is "Mick's" or "Paddy's" located?

                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                  The first ones that come up on Google are in Stafford VA and Portland OR, respectively.

                                                                  Apparently some bloke in Cleveland already stole my Bogtrotters name for his sandwich shop.

                                                                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                    Well Mick or Paddy apparently aren't offensive to you as a person or Irish heritage. But the question is how would you react if a term that WAS offensive to you were used; since "Chink" is offensive to many Asian Americans.

                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                      People yell "moron" (or "Red Sox suck!") at me all the time. Like I actually care what someone who has to insult someone else to feel better about themselves thinks.

                                                                      As far as the former "Chink's" goes, apparently some children insulted Sam decades ago, he said FU by calling his restaurant by the same name, Joe inherited it, and as far as I know, neither ever actually intentionally insulted an Asian. Getting bent out of shape over it now (or Joe's decision to change the name for business reasons)...well, it's just a symptom that we are all too thin-skinned and need to grow up and stop complaining about things that don't matter.

                                                                      You can only be offended if you think you can be. (Wow, PhillyBestBYOB, that's really profound!)

                                                                      However, I do have to draw the line at Shamrock Shakes. Those really are offensive.

                                                                      1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                        It's not realistic for most people to simply accept public insults as you do.
                                                                        A friend's son was refered to by one of his school teachers as a "red headed Irish monkey". I think you gotta react to that in some manner outta self respect.
                                                                        Thanks

                                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                                    There is a Paddy's on Race Street in Old City right here in Philly. I never considered it a slur, though I looked it up and apparently it is a pretty bad one in the UK. I'm not sure it has the same connotation here but I'm not Irish so I withhold judgement.

                                                                    Mick can simply be someone's name so that is a harder call.

                                                                    1. re: barryg

                                                                      Paddy's a name as well - it's a short from of Padraig, the Irish Gaelic version of Patrick.

                                                                      1. re: caganer

                                                                        Call the PC Police!

                                                                        1. re: barryg

                                                                          "Chink" is clearly a slur. Paddy in certain context can be as well OR it can be the name of an Irish holiday celebrated on March 17th.

                                                              2. I understand its a really great steak but I refused to go because of the name; and hearing the explanation of the name's origin which made it even worse. Now I'll check it out.

                                                                1. Quite a highly charged issue then, isn't it? Certainly is emotion, strong opinions and divergent angles on this issue. It seems prudent that the name has been changed to one as neutral and non-confrontational as Joe's..

                                                                  Wish him good luck and let it rest, it is done!

                                                                  1. I think folks get too worked up over things like this.

                                                                    Gawd(being religiously neutral) forbid they have a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup or box of her pancake mix in their house!

                                                                    Good stuff.......but for the life of me in 63 years, I don't think I have ever met a Jemima.or Gemima

                                                                    "epithets" of every streak endure. Right?.no.....descriptive, yes. Some are a bit more derogatory; some just "point the light" at a certain group.

                                                                    Probably not the end of the world either way...........but Joes is boring and not memorable. Growing up I ate at "Portugee Joe's" and the food was fantastic. As "by-way Diner" it became insipid (change of ownership and menu)

                                                                    On a scale of 1 to 100, who really cares? There are bigger issues in life and more interesting bits of food lore

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                      "On a scale of 1 to 100, who really cares?"

                                                                      I give it a 2.

                                                                    2. Clearly no one on this thread would use Chink to publicly address a person of Asian descent or resembling Asian descent (at least I hope not). Yet many wanna act like changing the name is overly PC?

                                                                      1. Looks like the name change has hurt business (I guess folks looking for Chink's can no longer find it).

                                                                        http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/2305...

                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                        1. re: gaffk

                                                                          Or changing the name created animosity with its customer base, and the people who were offended by the name never went there anyway, so the name change hurt business. What was not answered in the story was whether Joe has decided to open a second shop or not. Political Correct Police 1, Common Sense 0.

                                                                          http://www.philly.com/philly/news/201...

                                                                          1. re: cwdonald

                                                                            "Political correct police"? No one forced him or even put pressure on the new owner to change the name. He did it on his own out of respect and consideration for others. Why is showing respect for others such a horrible concept?

                                                                            "Common sense"? Perpetuating racial slurs is common sense? Let's get all teary eyed and nostalgic over a fifty year old business with a racial slur for a name.

                                                                            1. re: cwdonald

                                                                              And if people aren't going because they changed the name (assuming its the same ownership and product) how small is that?

                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                And if all the people who complained about the name are not consistently patronizing now that it has been changed, then that also adds to the gap.

                                                                            2. re: gaffk

                                                                              Seriously, we're concluding that the downturn in business was caused by the name change based on a few tweets' worth of text with no data? How about whether business was already in decline prior to the name change, or whether there have been any other concomitant changes that may have affected business?

                                                                              In reading through the old posts, it seems a lot of the opposition to the name change was based on the fact that the original owner was okay with having Chink as a nickname. The problem is that that argument completely misses the point of why the use of racial slurs is damaging even when it isn't necessarily intended as such. Calling the restaurant Chink makes that word appear acceptable and benign, and provides an excuse to actual bigots--ie, that guy doesn't mind being called Chink, so therefore I can call you Chink and if you don't like it, that's just because you're oversensitive and whiny.

                                                                              1. re: msiangal

                                                                                1. The Philly.com story interviewed the owner who stated that business was off, so that is the source of the information on the downturn in business.

                                                                                2. Chink was the owner, he was not Asian-american and he named the store after himself. Seems like you completely destroy the legacy by changing.

                                                                                3. The current owner changed, trying to assuage people and ostensibly to perhaps open new shop(s) under the scintillating name Joe's with the hope that the name change would make it possible to open a shop in any community without raising the ire of people.. I think this is basically the story of a small business person taking a gamble and losing.

                                                                                4. While there have not been recent attempts to make him change the name, there have been online petitions over the years, and multiple news stories about people objecting to the name, (mostly from people who do not live in the Torresdale neighborhood.).

                                                                                That said, as any forecaster will tell you, you cannot completely conclude the name change was the sole reason for the business downturn.

                                                                                1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                  i was glad when he changed the name. no one made him pick 'joe's' - and it seems like he didn't handle the transition as well as he could have. but if he's losing business because of the name change, because people are angry that it no longer has a racist name, it doesn't say anything nice about the previous clientele.

                                                                                  1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                                                    Changing the name of an established business is extremely risky and Joes was a terrible one to pick. I follow this stuff and still didn't make the connection between Joes and Chinks the first couple times I saw their billboard on i95.

                                                                                    Now, he's whining in the paper about his lost business. That's going to plant the idea is people's heads that the product isn't good, or he already went out of business.

                                                                                    Bad bad decisions all around.

                                                                                    1. re: barryg

                                                                                      Good decision to change the name. Business being off is unfortunate.

                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                        Bad decision changing the name,.. you destroy the whole brand equity. It was at least memorable. Pats and Geno's are generic enough names but have been around for 60 plus years.

                                                                                        What Joe needs to do is build himself up as a personality. He needs to try to do what Tony Luke did which was not only make a good product but tie the product to the person Joe. We need to know Joe as a personality.. he needs to be the product sold, or he needs to sell the old time fountain/cheesesteak concept ,,,, Nifty Fifties cheesesteaks if you will.

                                                                                        1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                          It could turn out to be a bad business decision but clearly that's not the entire issue here.

                                                                              2. re: gaffk

                                                                                Just a quick request, folks, since this thread has resurfaced, that you please keep things focused on this issue, rather than making it a general debate about any instance of potentially PC behavior. It's a huge and hotly contested issue, but it's a little too huge for Chowhound -- please stick to discussing this one restaurant's situation. Thanks.

                                                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                  Quite right, CH. Nicely said.

                                                                              3. The "Sticks and Stones" children's rhyme has been around for over 150 years and its message is the real truth of the matter. I believe this PC bullshit has only made things worse.

                                                                                1. What is (was) the neighborhood consensus on which has a better steak Joe's or Grey Lodge?

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                    For me, it was Chink's\Joe's.

                                                                                    But with these disclaimers:
                                                                                    1) I have not been to either since I moved to the burbs three years ago.
                                                                                    2) I grew up in NE Philly and so my palate was trained for the type of cheesesteak served at places like Steve's, Chink's, etc. (Although as a Rhawnhurst girl, I didn't really discover these spots until my more mobile high school years.)
                                                                                    3) I never got the Grey Lodge love (great beers, but never really loved the food there). I know, I'm in the minority among my family, friends and CHers. I think if some friends just wanted a good cheesesteak and fries, they'd choose Joe's, but if they wanted good food and beer, they'd choose Grey Lodge . . .and I would begrudgingly accompany them to the Lodge because it's more about the friends than the food.

                                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                                      Ok I LOVE Grey Lodge's steak (prefer sliced vs chopped meat and their "wet" cheese).

                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                        That's why it's nice to live in an area with a good variety: something for everyone.

                                                                                  2. Chinks made a fine steak, but the experience was more than that. A visit there was like visiting another era. From the milkshakes and sodas to the service, you would expect to hear Eisenhower on the radio while there. I think they will re-gain their popularity, but in marketing terms it could take a few years (like starting from scratch.) It's a shame Political correctness took its toll. The man was obviously not anti-Asian in any facet of his business.

                                                                                    1. It occurred to me that a person's sir name could be Chink. In this specific case it was not the last name of the owner or previous owner. However if it were so: would there still be the same issues? Understand that the argument that it is a persons name is a valid reason for using the name. However the public perception of that name, for those not knowing the origin, would be the same. Would that justify a call for a name change? The name would be the same and the potential effect of the name would be the same but with no true ethnic connection other than in the minds of some members of the public.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Bacchus101

                                                                                        I just keep thinking he should have added "in the armor" to the original name : )

                                                                                      2. Does anybody remember a chain called "Sambos?" The name came from the founders... They were pressured, and pretty much dried up.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambo's

                                                                                        1. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/fo...

                                                                                          This looks like a very good marketing approach......

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                            A clever idea!

                                                                                            1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                              Syrah, Nebbiolo, big Cab..