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Make Money and Keep Workers Happy

As you look forward to the New Year, ask yourself some questions.  Am I living my values?  What changes can I make to better align my actions with my beliefs in my work and in my life?

Illegal Petes Live Wage Initiative values

Case Study:  Taking Care of Business by Taking Care of Employees

Illegal Pete's, a fast-casual burrito chain which started in Boulder, CO in 1995, just announced (as reported in the Daily Camera newspaper) raising the minimum wage for tipped hourly employees to $15 / hour in January.   That compares to the Colorado minimum wage of $8.08 per hour for tipped employees.  The company is also raising wages for salaried management positions. The quick-service restaurant concept also offers its employees fully matching 401k and health insurance for 30+ hour employees.

Pete Turner, founder, focuses on successfully running the business while investing in workers and the community.   Turner "believes that employees working in the quick-service restaurant industry should be fairly compensated, so that they can proudly turn what some consider a 'job' into a 'career.' "  So he established the Living Wage Initiative.

The Daily Camera reported:  Turner said, "We're passionate about doing the right thing by our employees and our communities, showing it is good business as well.  We're driving business values by running our business by our values."  The Living Wage Initiative has helped Illegal Pete's average unit sales to grow 16 percent and allowed the company to expand from seven to 11 locations.  Total employees equal 450, of which 260 employees are full time.

Illegal Pete's mission is to create a place for relaxed human connection.  It welcomes all.  Look for this poster in all locations.

Beyond his own restaurant, Turner advocates for better wages for all.  He co-founded Good Business Colorado with like-minded Colorado business-owners.  GBC is a sustainable business-minded organization advocating for socially-conscious business practices, and making meaningful, value-based choices in business.

Benefits from Keeping Workers Happy

  • Better wages make for more responsible employees. Turner stated, "At our restaurant we account for everything.  Nobody is stealing anything."
  • A better work environment that celebrates individuality and relaxed human connection. It's more fun.
  • Very low employee turnover reduces costs of retraining and costs of recruitment. With today's low unemployment rate, there is intense competition for good workers.. 
  • This helps a company's bottom line.

Carolyn Livingston, communication director for the Colorado Restaurant Association, said, "Everyone is looking for the magical formula to make money and keep the workers happy."  


Illegal Pete's has the magic.  That is why I choose them to cater my daughter's graduation party.  They are pursuing the passionate purpose of creating a place for relaxed human connection while living the values of dependability, hard work, people who love people, positive attitudes, having fun, living wages, welcoming all.  This produces great financial results and good food.  What actions can you take to pursue your passionate purpose?