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Illegal Pete's rolls up its Park Meadows location

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Here's one we missed in our December and our 2010 Restaurant Roll Calls: On December 29, the windows at the Park Meadows Illegal Pete's, 8283 South Akron Street in Centennial, went dark. "The trend in that area was not too positive," says owner Pete Turner. "All of our other locations had a very good year last year, and the store there was not turning in the right direction, so we decided we'd be better served putting our energies into our other stores. And we've got that other location just down the road at DTC."

In other words, don't panic: The mission-style burrito chain isn't going anywhere.

"We were there for five and a half years, and it just never quite got there," Turner adds. "We'd rather use the energy that we'd put into a store that was never quite getting that into stores that really worked and expanding our footprint into other areas. We're gonna do Fort Collins in the next year. We're going to use the effort toward that."

There's a lot more that's new with Illegal Pete's, including a mobile app for Droid phones that contains the whole menu; you can order your food and pay for it through the app, so when you get to the restaurant, you can just cut in line and pick up your bag. "We've been pretty soft about telling people about it -- we've been trying to work out some kinks -- but it's really neat," Turner says.

Turner notes that the chain is also working on pushing breakfast more in 2011, and he says that Illegal Pete's recently reformulated all of its tortilla recipes and launched a new whole-wheat tortilla. "Our tortillas are now all-natural -- no trans fats or preservatives. Everything's natural now, so that's pretty exciting." He also mentions the restaurant chain's Starving Artist program, which it plans to continue this year: "We've got a big 2011 in front of us."

"I've been doing this for fifteen years," he says, "and it's a bummer to close a store. Hopefully we won't do that again -- but lessons learned in putting the energy in other places. It's just funny, because overall we had a good year last year; that was just the one store that was turning negative."

For information, visit www.illegalpetes.com.

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