While lawsuits filed over limited liability companies sometimes stay out of the spotlight, the owner of a small Denver-based restaurant chain is OK with the case getting national attention.
Illegal Pete’s filed the suit due to the rejection of certain corporate filings on grounds that the company’s name allegedly has “offensive connotations.” The sports bar with Mexican-style fare suggeets that the state responded with runaway “political correctness” over the contentious issue of immigration.
The San Francisco-based law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine is representing the restaurant, with the public relations firm of Baretz+Brunell representing the firm as public relations counsel.
The Delaware Secretary of State’s office declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
“We sincerely regret Delaware’s misinterpretation of the company’s name, and we hope to resolve this unfortunate confusion as quickly as possible,” the company stated. “24 years ago, Pete Turner named his restaurant Illegal Pete’s as an homage to his dying father, Pete Turner Senior. Pete Sr. was a good old fashioned hell-raiser and helped Pete Jr. start the company. The name had no racial connections then, and it has no racial connections now. In our current political times, divided and filled with racial tension, our name has been unwittingly rolled into a larger conversation about race, the United States, who belongs here and if a human being should ever be referred to as ‘illegal.”’
The statement continued, “The word “illegal” in our name is a reference to the countercultural, to the rebellious, to the very picture of challenging the authority that the restaurants were founded upon. It’s in this spirit that we challenge the decision made by Delaware officials to refuse to incorporate because of our name. The word ‘illegal’ has usages that extend far beyond using it as a slur, and these different and endless usages are a vital part of our language and society. If we retract every instance of the word “illegal,” it won’t solve the issues our country has with being fearful of others where we should be welcoming. If we removed every instance of the word “illegal,” we wouldn’t be able to talk about the regulations we build our society around.
“Illegal Pete’s is the name we’ve done business under for 24 years. Changing the name is a violation of our free speech. It has the potential to harm the business that Pete Turner has tirelessly built from the ground up, and change the quality of life for our hundreds of employees at our 11 locations. It’s for this reason that we stand in solidarity against the usage of ‘illegal’ as a slur towards immigrants, while also refusing to back down in regards to its usage in our name.