Albums on the Hill

The iconic Boulder record store Albums on the Hill closed after 46 years on Monday. The owner of Illegal Pete's next door hopes to expand into the space.

BOULDER – Pete Turner, owner of 12 Illegal Pete’s fast-casual burrito restaurants in Colorado and Arizona, said today he has “every intention” of expanding his flagship Boulder eatery into the space soon to be vacated by the now-shuttered Albums on the Hill record store next door.

And if he succeeds, he says he will bring live music back to the combined properties at 1124 and 1128 13th St., located across from the Fox Theatre and just a few steps off the University of Colorado Boulder campus.

“It is 100 percent definite that we will be pursuing this,” Turner told The Denver Gazette. “It’s an absolute no-brainer.”

Andy Schneidkraut, who has operated Albums on the Hill since 1987 in the basement of a building owned by Gary Cook, decided to close his record store after a series of health scares this year. After five months closed, Schneidkraut reopened the store for an emotional, five-day closing sale that ended Monday.

“I think this is an opportunity to bring live music upstairs or downstairs in a combined venue,” Turner said. “We just want to do it in a way that aligns both the history of Andy’s business with the history of our business. I have mad respect for Andy. … And yes, we could use more space.”

Albums on the Hill was opened in 1976 by Buddy Day, who sold the business to Schneidkraut in 1987. Turner opened his first Illegal Pete’s in 1995 at what had been the popular Round the Corner burger restaurant.

Turner’s plan, if approved by the city of Boulder, would largely reunify the Round the Corner space, given that the area above Albums on the Hill once served as seating for the burger restaurant.

“So, yes, that space was made to expand,” Turner said.

The only question, he added, “is what the city of Boulder will allow us to do, and what hoops we will have to go through. Boulder has more regulations about what you can do on The Hill than anywhere else in the city. But I’m hoping that after 27 years, we have earned enough good will for them to trust us. I know we are up to the task.”

Turner has had a personal connection to Albums on the Hill since he was a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, graduating in the Class of 1993. He was a longtime customer who considered the store’s “Tuesdays at Midnight” record releases to be part of his college ritual.

“I have been talking with Andy and the landlord for years about the long-term plan for that property,” he said, “but I have not pushed it out of respect for Andy and his situation.”

Turner’s plan would not be to reopen the record store, but music, comedy and entertainment are basic components of the Illegal Pete’s brand, and he said that would “definitely” continue in the expanded Boulder restaurant. The Illegal Pete’s on South Broadway in Denver, for example, regularly hosts local bands and has a recreation area outside.

The record-store property needs infrastructure upgrades, including plumbing and electrical. But if everything were to go smoothly – and very little has since the pandemic brought labor and supply shortages along with runaway inflation – Turner thinks an expanded Illegal Pete’s could be up and running within 12-18 months.

John Moore is the Denver Gazette's Senior Arts Journalist. Email him at john.moore@denvergazette.com

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