Reactions Mixed To Steak Shop's Name Change - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Reactions Mixed To Steak Shop's Name Change

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PHILADELPHIA -

An iconic Northeast Philadelphia cheese steak shop is about to get a new name, in hopes of shedding an old controversy.

On Monday, "Chink's Steaks" at 6030 Torresdale Ave. will change its name to "Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop."

"Joe" is owner Joe Groh, who took over the shop from the man who opened the business back in 1949: Sam "Chink" Sherman, so nicknamed by his boyhood friends for his "slanty" eyes.

Chink's is a famous fixture in the city's Wissinoming neighborhood, but the folks who run it came to realize that not everyone in the city found the name inviting.

"We just want to be more culturally sensitive," manager Stefani Mahoney told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "And we want to be able to expand, and that was hard to do with the 'Chink's name."

The Chink's controversy has raged – off and on – for nearly a decade, and many customers in this busy eatery seem to think it's much ado about nothing.

"They don't mean nothing by it," said one woman.  "It's just the name of the place." 

"The first time I heard it I was like, 'Really? It's called Chink's Steaks?' said a man a few booths away. "But, that's what it's called."

To Philadelphia's Asian American community, using a racial slur as a business name is a very big deal.

"We welcome the change," says Kay Kyungsun Yu, who, as president of the Asian Pacific Bar Association of Pennsylvania, negotiated with Groh over a name change back in 2008.  "We never wanted to harm Mr. Groh's business in any way. We wanted to find solutions that would work for all of us. Would we have preferred for it to have happened sooner? Absolutely. But we welcome the fact that it's happening now."

The official name change takes place on April Fool's Day, but the ad agency handling the re-branding insists it's no joke.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about longtime customers disappointed by what they consider a surrender to political correctness?

They're snapping up T-shirts with the iconic "Chink's Steaks" logo before the last batch disappears.

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