Illegal Pete's, the Colorado-based Tex-Mex chain, was once again the target of protests when it opened a new outpost in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday. Nearly 50 protesters picketed the restaurant with signs and megaphones, reports Fox 11 Tucson, denouncing what they believe is an offensive name. The protest apparently didn't make much of a statement, as Illegal Pete's was "packed with paying customers."
One protester told Fox 11, "This is a visual representation of a lot of the things that are affecting undocumented people in Tucson." Another said, "My mother was undocumented for many years and it makes me incredibly furious." Considering the cuisine served by the chain, those who don't like the name think it's a disparaging reference to immigrants who entered the United States without official paperwork.
Dozens are shouting "change the name" right now outside the new "Illegal Pete's" Restaurant that just opened near UA pic.twitter.com/XfxrHlLaWq— Kristin Haubrich (@KristinHaubrich) December 11, 2015
It's not the first time there have been calls for Illegal Pete's to come up with a new moniker. Last year, owner Peter Turner declared he would not change the name, calling it a "literary reference to a bar in a novel he read as an English major." Turner told Fox 11 it was his old nickname and admitted he would consider making a change: "You know yeah, I just need to have more conversations. It means a ton to me, [the name] means everything."
While the Illegal Pete's name has drawn some bad press, the chain seemingly makes an attempt to fulfill a do-gooder philosophy. Its restaurants offer free meals to lesser-known musicians on tour, and its lowest-paid employees start at $10.50 an hour, $2.45 higher than the Arizona minimum wage and $2.27 higher than Colorado's minimum.
See the Fox 11 report on the protests below.