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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA club meets with owner of Illegal Pete’s to discuss the controversial name

Jesus Barrera
Work continues on the construction site of Illegal Pete’s on Tyndall Avenue and University Boulevard on Thursday, Dec. 3. The restaurant owner has been under constant pressure from local groups to change the name of the chain.

The debate continues over the controversial name of a restaurant that is set to open on University Boulevard.

Pete Turner, owner of Illegal Pete’s, discussed the controversy over the restaurant’s name with a UA club and the Tucson community on Wednesday.

In the last month, communities within and around the UA have demanded Turner to change the name of his restaurant. Many claim it to be offensive to the Latino community.

Stephanie Zamora, co–chair treasurer of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan, or MEChA, described what happened during the meeting and the next steps for resolving the disagreement.

Zamora said Turner was the first to reach out to MEChA in an attempt to listen to what the club had to say about the name of his restaurant.

“People got very emotional and expressed how [‘illegal’] has caused violence in our community, and I told him that it triggers me to remember how my mom and I immigrated to the U.S.,” Zamora said. “It’s not a memory that I’m fond of, and no child should have to experience it, but, unfortunately, I did and seeing that name every day as I walk to work or class is extremely triggering and harmful to my mental state.”

Turner made it clear to the people attending the meeting that he’s not changing the name of the restaurant but wants to “continue the conversation.”

Zamora said the club gave Turner 2,500 petition signatures of people supporting the demand for the name change, including comments on the petition from supporters.

Kyle McFarland, an employee at Illegal Pete’s in Fort Collins, Colorado, said he thinks that the recent debates over the controversial name will come to a similar end as the Fort Collins location.

“We’ve been open for about a year now and only had a few protestors in the beginning, but now no one cares,” McFarland said. “Business is doing well here, even though the name of the restaurant had controversy to it at first, but I think this whole thing in Tucson will blow over eventually, too.”

Zamora said MEChA and the Tucson community aren’t going to stop protesting until he gives a definite answer to the petition.

Talia Stone, a public health sophomore, gave her opinion on the local debate and her thoughts on the scheduled opening:

“I can see why the Hispanic community might be offended by the name of the restaurant, but it is a chain and, if the owner hasn’t done anything about it in the past, I doubt he’ll do anything about it in the future,” Stone said. “I’m just excited for it to finally open this month because I love Mexican food, and I heard this place might be better than Chipotle. [I] can’t wait to check it out and see if that rumor is true.”

Follow Gabriella Vukelic on Twitter.

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