Fort Collins groups respond to no name change statement for Illegal Pete’s

Megan Fischer

In a statement released Wednesday, Pete Turner, owner of Illegal Pete’s restaurant, said he would not be changing the name of his restaurant despite community concerns.

Community members first voiced their concerns with Turner in a meeting Oct. 22 in the Lory Student Center. They found the connection between the word “illegal” and Mexican food to be offensive.


In Turner’s statement released Wednesday, he announced the name of the restaurant would stay as is.

“So, I will not change the name of our company,” Turner said. “We welcome you, and all humans, to visit our restaurant; to get to know us, and to form your own opinion, and hopefully create a meaningful relationship with Illegal Pete’s and other humans while in an atmosphere that celebrates individuality and relaxed human connection.”

In a press release from The Fort Collins Community Action Network, the community group “We Are Not Illegal” said they will continue to inform the community about the connection between language and racism when using the word illegal and Mexican food.

“We don’t want a restaurant in Fort Collins with such an offensive name,” said Cheryl Distaso, coordinator of the social justice nonprofit Fort Collins Community Action Network. “Illegal becomes a noun when used with a person’s name.”

The press release said that regardless of Turner’s intentions and the history in initially naming his restaurant, the impact of the name is still offensive.

“We are going to continue to reach out to the community and on this,” Distaso said.

Hernan Cortes, a Colorado State ethnic studies instructor, said he and others were unhappy with Turner’s decision.

“We’re disappointed that he has decided to go through with keeping the name with the heightened level of interest by the community,” Cortes said.

Cortes voiced his concern that it was not really that long ago in Fort Collins history when signs that read “no dogs or Mexicans” were used.

“There’s no question of whether or not we’re going to drop the issue,” Cortes said. “We are hoping to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.”


Collegian Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at or on Twitter @Megfischer04.