Illegal Pete’s owner says he won’t change the name of his restaurant

The owner of a Denver Mexican restaurant chain says he won’t change the name of his eatery despite calls from community members who charge its meaning is offensive to illegal immigrants.

"I will not change the name of our company," Illegal Pete’s owner Pete Turner wrote in a lengthy letter on the company’s blog detailing its 20-year history.

Although Turner writes that he “appreciates” those who took the time to voice their concerns, he stands by the name and goes on to discuss what the word illegal means to him.

“When it came to the name Illegal Pete’s, I settled on the name of a bar in a novel. The name resonated with me for the obvious reason that my name is Pete, but of equal importance, it was my father’s name.”

Turner says Illegal Pete’s refers to Turner’s father’s reputation as a “good-natured hell raiser” and was not meant to imply anything political.

Last month, local organizers from Fort Collins, Colorado, made up of CSU and Front Range students, professors and instructors, met with Turner and voiced their concerns, stating that the word "illegal" has a social context that makes it inappropriate for use when describing a person, reports KDVR.

We Are Not Illegal, who organized last month's meeting, said Thursday morning that they were disappointed by Turner’s response.

"Rather than responding to the group's concerns, Turner chose to spend six pages enumerating the things he has done for the community and his track record as an employer, things that the group never called into question," they wrote.

Despite concerns, Turner continues to state that he will not be changing the name on his front door. Milton Guevara, a general manager of an Illegal Pete’s in Boulder, stands by his employers decision.

“I’m Hispanic, and I’m very proud to be,” Guevara, told KDVR. “People come to us because they love our food … The name doesn’t mean anything.”

Illegal Pete’s seventh Colorado location is scheduled to open on Nov. 13.