When Joey Vento had a scare last year with colorectal cancer, “he never missed a day of work. Came out of the hospital Saturday and came back to work on Monday,” family friend Joey “Pony” Amato said yesterday at Vento’s world-famous Geno’s Steaks.

 

The cheesesteak baron, who died Tuesday from a massive heart attack at age 71, remained as hard-working as he was controversial in recent years.

 

“He was a hard-headed bastard,” Amato said. “Came in to work at 4 a.m. till 11 a.m. the day he died. Never told anyone how he was feeling.”

 

Vento opened Geno’s in 1966 across from Pat’s King of Steaks. He was known for his support of conservative causes and the city police department. The Independence Hall Tea Party Association yesterday called him “a great friend of the conservative cause and the Tea Party movement.”

“I was a costumer when he opened in 1966, and I worked here as soon as I was old enough,” Geno’s manager Jimmy Reds said. “He was a great boss.”