Chink’s is finally rebranding. The name for Northeast Philly’s most popular cheesesteak came from the nickname of the original owner, but was decried in recent years as a racial slur. Current owner Joe Groh, who has worked in the shop since 1979 (he was 16) and bought it in 1999, is finally doing away with the somewhat unsavory historical artifact. As of April 1, the culinary institution will officially be known as Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop.After 50 years,
“It is very important to me that we no longer inadvertently alienate anyone in the Philly community,” Groh says, noting he originally kept the name in deference to his mentor and to history. But criticism first boiled over nearly a decade ago - why the change coming now? The Philadelphia Business Journal sheds light on the impetus: Groh is planning to move the business closer to Center City, and at least one landlord flat out refused to rent to a business named Chink’s.
The shop’s original neighborhood is not what it once was, and Groh is eyeing a Fishtown location to tap into its booming scene. A gradual transition is planned, and even with a new name and a new storefront, he promises the much-lauded cheesesteaks will stay the same.