Meet Pete Turner the President, and Founder of Illegal Pete’s! Illegal Pete’s is a Mexican restaurant dedicated to serving fast, healthy food to customers in an incredibly social environment.
Pete was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado. In high school, Pete worked at several restaurants where he gained valuable experience in the industry. He slowly began to develop a vision of owning his own restaurant or bar. In 1989, Pete attended CU Boulder where he majored in English. While in school, he was exposed to a new style of Mexican food that was popular in the Bay Area. He fell in love with this style and decided it was time to bring it to Boulder.
Pete graduated in 1993 and by 1995 he opened Illegal Pete’s first location on The Hill in Boulder, Colorado. Today, Illegal Pete’s has 12 restaurants located across the Colorado front range and in Arizona!
About Illegal Pete’s
Growing up, Pete’s mother was heavily involved in the restaurant industry. He became exposed to business operations at a young age, and by high school, he had been employed at several different restaurants. While working in the restaurant industry, Pete began to develop a vision of owning his own restaurant or bar in the future.
In 1989, Pete began school at CU Boulder. While in school, he became close friends with students from the Bay Area. They introduced Pete to mission-style burritos which were extremely popular in the Bay Area. Pete fell in love with these burritos, and would often visit the area just to get one!
Pete identified the opportunity to bring mission-style burritos to Boulder, where they’d likely become popular among college students. He began searching for potential locations in Boulder, and came across the perfect spot on The Hill!
In 1993, Pete graduated from CU Boulder with a degree in English. By August 15, 1995, the first Illegal Pete’s was officially open for business. Today, there are 12 Illegal Pete’s restaurants located across the Colorado front range and in Arizona!
Upcoming Projects and Events
Unfortunately, as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, Illegal Pete’s has put a hold on many in-person events. Pete hopes to have live bands, comedy shows, and late-night bar hours again in the near future.
Recently, Illegal Pete’s announced three new locations opening in Colorado Springs, Lakewood, and Wheat Ridge! For updates on new store openings, check out the Illegal Pete’s website.
Additionally, Pete will be guest speaking at Startups & Sandwiches on Wednesday, February 2nd. He mentioned,
“I’m excited to have this opportunity to connect with students, especially those who are interested in entrepreneurship, and have discussions about the way industries are changing as a result of the pandemic.”
Startups & Sandwiches is a recurring series hosted by the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship! Each Startups & Sandwiches event provides students with a unique opportunity to meet and network with executives and founders alike. If you are interested in attending, Register here!
Pete’s father, also named Pete, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer during Pete’s first semester at CU. He was a huge supporter of Illegal Pete’s and continued to provide assistance in any way he could. The father-son duo worked together on getting the restaurant up and running and in August of 1997, after two years of operation and an 8 year battle of the disease, Pete’s father passed away. Pete’s father lives on through the name “Illegal Pete” as it embodies not only Pete himself, but also his father who helped build the restaurant from the ground up in those first two years.
The recent Covid19 pandemic has also created challenges for Illegal Pete’s and the restaurant industry as a whole. Pete is taking the pandemic as a learning experience and using this time to focus on Illegal Pete’s core values as they wait for restrictions to be lifted.
Advice for Current Students
Pete provides the following advice for current students,
“Keep doing what you're doing! Pay attention and continue educating yourself on the community and world around you. There’s so much to learn and it’s important to appreciate where you’re at now. Understanding your values will help guide you.”