Restaurant opening draws protests

Published: Dec. 11, 2015 at 2:01 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:11 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Tucson restaurant made its debut Dec. 10 on University Boulevard, but it wasn't without protest.

Nearly 50 protesters gathered outside Illegal Pete's with signs and megaphones, claiming the name of the restaurant is offensive.

Meanwhile, the restaurant was packed with paying customers, many who said it's just a name.

Some protesters chained themselves together to show their opposition to using the term "illegal," while others chanted "change the name."

"This is a visual representation of a lot of the things that are affecting undocumented people in Tucson," one protester said.

Others said they were protesting because they believe the term "illegal" is derogatory.

"I myself am an immigr ant and my mother was undocumented for many years and it makes me incredibly furious," protester Ana Ghoreishian said.

The restaurant hit capacity with the amount of customers eager to get in.

Many said they were unhappy because the protesters disrupted their dinner.

"I think this is absolutely ridiculous. I don't know why they're doing this. It's unnecessary," customer Tim Hurley said.

Owner and found of Illegal Pete's, Pete Turner, said he started the restaurant chain in 1995.

The restaurant is the eighth Illegal Pete's restaurant to open.

The others are located in Colorado.

Turner said the restaurant name is his old nickname, and is in no way offensive.

"Just illegal like breaking the law, like that's what it meant," Turner said.

Turner said his father's name was also Pete. He said his dad battled cancer and helped him co-sign the loan for his first restaurant, but died two years later.

Turner said his dad was a "hell raiser" and "rebellious" and that's another reason he chose "illegal."

Turner said he would consider changing the name of the restaurant down the road.

"You know yeah, I just need to have more conversations. It means a ton to me, [the name] means everything," Turner said.

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