Controversy over Boulder-based restaurant

A restaurant chain based in Boulder with locations across Colorado, Illegal Pete's, has recently come under fire for their name.

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October 27, 2014 2 min read

A restaurant coming to FoCo is bringing controversy. Students taking cooking classes in Boulder should take note of a recent story out of their home city. A restaurant chain based in Boulder with locations across Colorado, Illegal Pete’s, has recently come under fire for its name. The restaurant, which serves burritos and other Tex-Mex inspired cuisine, has been accused of improperly using the word ‘illegal’ in reference to Mexican and Central American individuals in light of the recent immigration crisis.

According to NBC, Illegal Pete’s currently operates six different locations in  Denver and Boulder, with plans to open a new franchise in Fort Collins this year. That newest franchise is the one that has drawn the negative attention, as a group of more than 30 residents of the town have asked ‘illegal’ to be removed from the name.

The Denver Channel reports that Illegal Pete’s owner and founder, Pete Turner, came to meet with the group of concerned residents on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 to discuss their concerns. During the course of the meeting, he indicated that the name “Illegal Pete’s” is not a racist slight but rather a reference to a bar he read about in a novel during his undergraduate years. Turner had attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, as an English major.

Still, this information may not be enough to appease the concerned parties, many of whom referred to the word ‘illegal’ as the ‘I-word’ during the course of Turner’s discussion. In an effort to label the phrase as both cruel and dehumanizing, it was compared by those in attendance to a common racial slur used in reference to people of color.

It is unclear whether or not Turner will opt to change the name when his seventh location opens later this year, but the odds seem somewhat low as he has already established recognizable branding.

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