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Please Speak English at This Ice Cream Shop

Leon's Frozen Custard stand in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Leon's Frozen Custard was in the news this week because its owner asked employees to only speak English with customers.
English-Only For Employees at Ice Cream Shop
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This is What’s Trending Today:

You can order plenty of sweet, tasty treats at Leon’s Frozen Custard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The restaurant’s many offerings include hot fudge sundaes, banana splits and root beer floats.

But you cannot order anything in Spanish.

Leon’s Frozen Custard opened in 1942. At that time, not too many people in Milwaukee spoke Spanish. But now many people in the neighborhood close to Leon’s do.

President Bill Clinton stopped at Leon's after a speech in 1994.
President Bill Clinton stopped at Leon's after a speech in 1994.

Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin. It is about 140 kilometers north of Chicago, Illinois.

This week, people started talking about the restaurant on Facebook. In fact, Leon’s language policy was one of the top trending topics on Wednesday and Thursday.

That is because the owner of the restaurant, Ron Schneider, wants his workers to speak English all the time -- even if both the employee and customer are Spanish speakers.

When news of the policy came out, Schneider told a television station that he would “prefer if the employees would simply speak English, and encourage those customers who can to speak English.”

Schneider said he is not discriminating against customers who cannot speak English. He just wants English to be the language spoken at his business.

But people reacting on Facebook are not so sure.

Alex Dominguez said, “so much for racism not being dead.”

Gretchen Theisen said that being able to speak the language of your customers is an asset.

Facebook comment.
Facebook comment.

Another Milwaukee resident wondered what business was like in the 1940s when Leon’s Frozen Custard first opened. In those days, Milwaukee was home to many German and Polish immigrants who did not speak English.

But many people also agree with Schneider’s policy.

Ron Hofmann said “this is America our official language is English, so speak it or learn to speak it.”

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Would you be able to order frozen custard at Leon's in English? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

hot fudge sundae – n. a dessert of ice cream that is topped with a sweet chocolate sauce, nuts, whipped cream, etc.

root beer float – n. ice cream added to a sweet, brown drink that is flavored with roots and herbs and that contains bubbles

banana splitn. a dessert made with ice cream served on a sliced banana and usually covered with sweet sauces, fruits, nuts, and whipped cream

dessert – v. sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal

encourage – n. to make (someone) more likely to do something

asset – n. a valuable person or thing

customern. someone who buys goods or services from a business

residentn. a person who lives in a set place or neighborhood