Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Mexican restaurant hopes to brighten up corner of Evans and Williams

Illegal Pete’s, a Colorado-based bar-and-restaurant chain, plans to open in August in the former Piccolo’s at the southwest corner of East Evans Avenue and South Williams Street.

The opening will follow extensive renovations to the 54-year-old building, company founder Pete Turner says.

Changes to the exterior will be among the most visible alterations, especially along the east side of the building. Turner says he hopes to put in an outdoor seating area along Williams Street that will be buffered by trees and landscaping. A window will be cut into the wall to allow food and beverage pass-through from the interior bar. An “antiqued” mural is to be painted on the brick exterior near the window.

“We’re going to brighten up the corner,” Turner says, noting that his lease is for five years with an option for five more.

The restaurant is the sixth Illegal Pete’s, a chain that began in 1995 on College Hill in Boulder. Since then, Turner has opened a second restaurant in Boulder and three more in Denver. The restaurants specialize in “fast, fresh, healthy” burritos, tacos, nachos and salads. Turner says the Evans Avenue location would be open as early as 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and as late as 2:30 a.m. on weekends.

Residents near the site have expressed concerns about parking, noise and late night revelry, pointing out that Turner first announced plans in late 2006 but made little progress until recently. They say concerns about snow and graffiti removal went unheeded, a situation Turner blamed on lack of funding and which he vowed to remedy.

Neighbors also expressed alarm when Turner told them he is thinking about putting a rooftop deck on the single-story building.

“Rooftop decks are a cool amenity,” Turner says. “It’s definitely an idea. But we’re just trying to get the business open. That’s way down the road.”

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