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Illegal Pete’s won’t change name despite protest

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(Credit: Illegal Pete's)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The owner of Illegal Pete’s, the Mexican restaurant chain known for its large burritos, will not change the name of the restaurant despite pleas from some residents of Fort Collins, where the next restaurant will open.

“I will not change the name of our company,” Pete Turner wrote at the end of a letter on the company’s website that detailed the history of the name and the company’s 20 years of business practices.

“I believe that authenticity of belief is born and lives in action. Over the last twenty years we’ve built our brand more and more through responsibly sourcing the food we serve from community-based businesses, providing above average wages, tangible benefits, and support to our employees, and giving back to our communities.”

Last month, organizers met with Turner asking him to change the name because they feel the term “illegal” is a negative stereotype.

“Since I know the context, and I have been labeled with (the word illegal), it makes a huge difference to me,” Lucy Gonzalez said at the meeting with Turner, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Others at the meeting likened the name to a racial slur directed at African-Americans, hanging a Confederate flag in the restaurant’s window or calling a restaurant “Smoking Lynching BBQ.”

The name Illegal Pete’s is a literary reference to a bar in a novel he read as an English major in Boulder, Turner said. Pete refers to his and his father’s name. After starting the restaurant in 1995, Turner hoped the name would be ambiguous enough to spark interest but also referring to counterculture activity.

The seventh Illegal Pete’s  restaurant opens in Fort Collins’ Old Town on Nov. 13.

 

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32 comments

      • Darrell

        Are you brain damaged or just one of the led my the nose cattle. If we listen to you and your pundits white people would not be able to talk or would that be just Conservatives? If you don’t like it go eat some where else let the free market decide what is right or wrong.

  • MrEddd

    Most ridiculous thing I have heard lately. I hope Turner doesn’t cave. As soon as he would change the name these liberals will go out hunting for something to whine about. Go Redskins.

    • Duke Paulsen

      A little fuzzy in memory on this (help would be much appreciated) but did not some “protest group with a fax machine” try to get McDonalds, Demanding no less, that they do away with certain food items on their Menu a few years ago? And McD’s told them to (in different wording) “F###-off”??

  • christina

    Do these people seriously have nothing to do with there life illegal Petes has an amazing history and has done very well in Denver and will do just ad great in FoCo get real snotty people of FoCo not everyone has your liberal views!

  • Anonymous

    Cracker Barrel needs to close up shop immediately. Mustard’s Last Stand is offensive to the Lakota. Any place advertising Mexican food is racist – it should be Hispanic food. Same with Chinese food – needs to be called Asian. Don’t these people know ANYTHING?

  • KT

    Here is an idea Lucy Gonzalez. Go back to Mexico. You won’t be illegal anymore and the term won’t hurt your feelings so much, but I am pretty sure you don’t want to go back there, so assimilate and get used to the term Illegal it is the perfect word to describe those who are not Citizens of our country.

    • truth be told

      Well said.. All illegals should go home and complain about their crappy country over there. Instead of breaking our laws and complaining about 20 year old businesses here. Illegal Petes has got a great product and history to boot. Way to stand up for yourself Mr Turner!

  • FoCo Native

    I’m confused as to why this is a liberal or conservative issue? I am also slightly offended with comments like “liberals should burn”. I am quite liberal and think that the re-naming of Illegal Pete’s is beyond ridiculous. I was born and raised in Fort Collins, moving to Denver about 15 years ago, and I can assure you Fort Collins is anything but liberal. I believe the saying goes something like “Fort Collins, the city of wide streets and narrow minds”. I love Illegal Pete’s and I am so glad that Pete is standing his ground and not kowtowing to this absurd request! I’m sure you all will think that I am some bleeding heart lib, but might I suggest that you just be kind? You certainly put out a lot of bad energy being so negative. It goes a long way being positive and polite in a discussion (and it doesn’t make you look like such an ignorant, bigoted jerk). Have a great day! I’m confused as to why this is a liberal or conservative issue? I am also slightly offended with comments like “liberals should burn”. I am quite liberal and think that the re-naming of Illegal Pete’s is beyond ridiculous. I was born and raised in Fort Collins, moving to Denver about 15 years ago, and I can assure you Fort Collins is anything but liberal. I believe the saying goes something like “Fort Collins, the city of wide streets and narrow minds”. I love Illegal Pete’s and I am so glad that Pete is standing his ground and not kowtowing to this absurd request! I’m sure you all will think that I am some bleeding heart lib, but might I suggest that you just be kind? You certainly put out a lot of bad energy being so negative. It goes a long way being positive and polite in a discussion (and it doesn’t make you look like such an ignorant, bigoted jerk). Have a great day!

    • Mary Purcell

      Great post Sandra. Ahh another racist word, must say these illegals learn fast. Yes it truly is amazing, but that’s what liberalism is all about, shifting the blame. I’ll donate to send all these ‘offended people’ back to Mexico, I’d hate for them to have to live and prosper in such a mean and racist coutry. Don’t let the door hit ya…

  • Drew

    Makes me think back to the early 1980s in Vancouver, BC.
    “Hunky Bill” Konyk is a Canadian of Ukrainian heritage who started a fast food chain in Vancouver, BC in the late 1960s specializing in Ukrainian food, especially perogies. He named it “Hunky Bill’s”. In 1981 there was a complaint lodged with the BC Human Rights Commission that the name was derogatory. Here’s the final news article:

    January 1983
    VANCOUVER — Earlier this year, we told you the story of a Ukrainian restaurant owner in Vancouver who uses the name “Hunky Bill’s” on his fast food outlets and race-horses, and who was brought before the courts after the Ukrainian Professional and Business Association of Vancouver complained the word “hunky” was a racial slur against people of Ukrainian descent.
    Well, the two-year battle is finally over, and Hunky Bill Konyk is again looking forward to “making more food and more money”. The official decision was handed down October 28 by the Human Rights Branch of the Province of British Columbia, which dismissed the complaint that Bill Konyk’s use of the term “hunky/’ discriminates against people of Ukrainian descent.
    The one-man arbitration board ruled that while the term “hunky” could be used as a slur, it could also be an inoffensive term. In his search for truth and justice, arbitration board Chairperson Dermod Owen-Flood turned to the pages of Alice in Wonderland, saying “words mean exactly what the speaker intends; nothing more and nothing less. ‘ ‘ Owen-Flood also added , ‘ Perhaps people should learn to laugh at themselves more and not take themselves less seriously. Perhaps that way, there would be less discrimination.”
    After hearing about his victory, Konyk said his next step will be to sell franchises for his successful fastfood outlets in Britain and the United States. While the decision evoked feelings of joy and relief from Konyk and his employees, Human Rights Branch Director Hanne Jenson, and UCPBA President Barbara Kaminsky expressed disappointment.
    Said Kaminsky, “We believe it is disappointing in that an opportunity has been lost to interpret the B.C Human Rights Code in a progressive and responsible manner, in a way other provinces have already demonstrated.” She added, “We think it is disturbing in that it appears to leave the door open for the proliferation of any ethnic or racial slur or obscenity to be used for commercial purposes.”
    When asked to judge the outcome of the ruling, an ebullient Hunky Bill replied, “This may not be an earth-shattering decision in terms of the law, but in terms of the liberties of people in this province, it is. It should have a salutary effect on the busy-bodies who seem intent on imposing their prejudices on the rest of the community.”

  • thirstaidglobal

    Why does everyone say this is about liberals? Liberals don’t ban books, liberals don’t deny people their civil liberties, the name sensitivity is because the media has tied the term illegal to Hispanic and I wonder where they got that idea?

    • Test

      uh… Liberals ban all kinds of stuff, including books and movies, they just ban different topics. Liberals have already rewritten Tom Sawyer.

    • Catharine Irene Barclay

      a) only the Bible b) only to those who disagree with them c) they probably got the idea from the fact that hundreds of thousands of people cross our southern border “illegally” and remain here “illegally”

  • annpirie

    Illegals would usually fall into the “liberal” category. You can bet they aren’t Republicans. Pete is one fine man whose father I grew up. This issue is absolutely asinine.

  • Anonymous

    Hang in there, Illegal Pete’s! Don’t let the liberal/communist/demonrat/utopian/PC/book-burning bastUrds intimidate you.

  • mstone

    Another perfect example of the orange slice, everybody gets a trophy society that some of you people are raising today. Get over your self!! Let your kids play in the dirt, learn the fact that not everybdy wins and be aware of the fact that life is not fair and then YOU may realize, it’s just a name people!!!

  • Scott Wyban

    Your station is propping up these whinners. What is the problem. Your racist brood doesn’t even refer to people that sneak into this country as illegals…they’re undocumented workers. Maybe if the place was called undocumented Pete’s you might have a story haters.

  • JJ

    I think the Irish Snug should change its name. It’s offending my Irish heritage. I mean, the name is obviously insinuating that the Irish are fat.

    • Hunky Bill

      Chubby’s is another local Mexican Restaurant that would also need to change their name. Think of all the chubby Mexican girls in their skin tight pants and half shirt on Federal BLVD that must be crying their eyes out every day that Chubby’s is allowed to server one more smothered burrito.

  • Dolly Cinders

    Unlawfully Present Pete’s? Unaccepted Pete’s?
    Considering how politically correct some people are these days, maybe we should not be surprised that some people won’t accept the literary reference as an excuse to create a name that has other connotations.

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