Illegal Pete’s Fulfills Its Commitment to Industry-Leading Living Wage


DENVER, March 12, 2019 — Illegal Pete’s, in fulfilling its mission to nourish and sustain its stakeholders–employees, customers and communities–completed its Living Wage Initiative in January 2019: raising its minimum starting wage to $15 per hour, plus every wage level above. This success was met with a groundswell of coverage from the Colorado media, and Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock referenced Illegal Pete’s in his speech about the city’s need to raise minimum wage.

Pete Turner, Founder of Illegal Pete’s, says, “We began our Living Wage Initiative in June of 2015, and we’re proud to say we hit our goal in January of 2019. While we’re investing an additional $3 million annually in our employees, we’ve now proven we can absorb the expense—even thrive.”

Offering $15 for a starting tipped hourly wage, plus industry-leading benefits, puts Illegal Pete’s ahead of state minimum wage laws, which are $8.08 in Colorado ($8.00 in AZ) for hourly tipped employees. Adding in tips, benefits, paid time off and food, this adds up to $46,000 per year for a starting restaurant employee.

Turner, who was asked to speak on the topic of a “Living Wage” at’s Annual Executive Conference in 2015, posits that just as the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry has shown industry-changing leadership in sustainable animal-husbandry, so too can it show leadership in how it treats its human capital.

“What about the sustainability of our people?” he asked attendees (video here). Three years later, he’s able to prove that providing a livable wage in the restaurant industry is possible, and in fact, profitable.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, one in 10 United States employees works in the restaurant industry. Turner imagines the impact of paying a sustainable wage to all restaurant employees, asking, “Can we help rebuild the American middle class? More than 50% of Americans’ food dollars are spent out of the grocery store, and this number continues to grow. Imagine the transformational impact our industry could have in our communities, in our country and our citizenry.”

SOURCE Illegal Pete’s

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