By Lucas High
DENVER — Illegal Pete’s, a fast-casual burrito chain with Colorado locations in Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver, will increase the minimum wage it pays employees to $15 per hour starting in January. Colorado’s minimum wage for tipped hourly employees will be $8.08 starting Jan. 1. Illegal Pete’s, which launched in Boulder in 1995, also offers an employee benefit package that includes health and dental insurance, a 401(k) retirement plan and paid time off. “We began our Living Wage Initiative in June of 2015, and we’re proud to say that we’ll hit our goal starting in January,” restaurant founder Pete Turner said in a prepared statement. With the new wage scale, Illegal Pete’s will spend $3 million more each year on employees. “We’ve now proven we can absorb the expense — even thrive,” Turner said. Wages will also rise for other minimum wage workers in Colorado as a result of the voter-approved passage Amendment 70 in 2016, a measure that increases the minimum wage in the state over a period of years. As of Jan. 1, the minimum wage will be $11.10. It will rise again on Jan. 1, 2020, to $12 per hour.