Rudy Visits Controversial Cheesesteak Shop

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani visits Geno's Steaks in south Philadelphia on Monday Oct. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
AP
This story was written by CBS News' Ryan Corsaro.

Monday night Rudy Giuliani visited a famous Philadelphia cheesesteak restaurant that serves as much controversy as it does calories.

Geno's Steaks has been a famous Philly hot-spot for years. It was thrown into the headlines last year when the owner posted a sign at the counter that reads, "This is America. When Ordering Please Speak English."

The national spotlight on the restaurant and its owner, Joey Vento, came at a time when both the media and Congress were fixated on illegal immigration - a subject that Republican candidates have been returning to in the past few months.

Giuliani, who has had to defend his record on illegal immigration as mayor of New York City, seems determined to prove he is a strong opponent of illegal immigration. Vento believes him.

"He's the right man - he's tough," Vento tells CBS News. "I'm hoping from what I've read so far about him - I believe we're on the same page as far as illegal immigration."

In the past few months, Giuliani has offered a slew of proposals signaling that he wants to end illegal immigration: increased electronic surveillance at borders, more patrol stations, "tamper-proof ID cards," and enforcing immigrants' fluency in English.

"We should make certain that they can read English, write English and speak English," Giuliani has repeated over the past several weeks at campaign stops and in radio ads - a sentiment that echoes Vento's views.

"Immigration is wonderful," Giuliani said on Monday, according to the Associated Press. "Immigration is the best thing we have going for us. We need new people. We need people who are going to inform us, give us new ideas, but it has to be legal.

"Illegal immigration is a bad thing," he added.

Vento says even if you speak fluent English, "if you're not a legal citizen, you need to get out of this country. People say we can't get rid of them. We can get rid of them in a heartbeat."

Vento is currently awaiting a court hearing regarding his sign. According to Vento, the complaint says that he's "violating and discriminating against a certain group which they don't identify."

"But the sign doesn't say we won't serve you if you don't speak English," adds Vento.

All in all, the staff at Geno's Steaks is excited that Giuliani will make a stop at the steak-and-cheese joint tonight. Whether the candidate will use the event to take aim at illegal immigration or just to meet the locals at a Philadelphia landmark is unclear, but its owner says he'll ask Giuliani to be on his side.

"We're not going to agree on everything, but I hope we agree on illegal immigration," Vento says. "Take care of Americans first, that's what Joey Vento has to say."