Cheesesteak Joint Changing Controversial Name

Tacony shop dropping racial slur from its name

Friday, Mar 29, 2013  |  Updated 8:38 PM EDT
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"Chinks" Owner Changing Restaurant's Name

Chink's Steaks

The sign hanging outside a controversial Tacony cheesesteak joint.

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The owner of a historic cheesesteak shop in Philadelphia says he's changing its controversial name. Chink's Streaks 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. Groh says it's time to "get with the times."

"We got nasty emails, saying 'we're going to throw a molotov cocktail through your front window.' And that scared me for my staff and my family, that someone could hurt us because of a name," said Groh.

The shop opened in 1949 in the Tacony section of northeast Philadelphia. It was named for founder Sam "Chink" Sherman. He died in 1997.

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His widow told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2004 he was given the nickname by neighborhood kids because his eyes appeared slanty.

Asian-American groups have long petitioned for a change. Among the groups, the Philadelphia Bar Association which passed a resolution opposing the use of racial slurs in business names in 2008.

The resolution specifically cited the steak shop and Groh.

Several years ago, however, thousands of people signed a petition in favor of keeping the original name.

"I have a lot of loyal customers that are very loyal to the name and are very upset I'm doing this," said Groh.

Some customers who talked with NBC10 says despite the name change, the place will still be known as "Chinks." 

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