Despite notoriously bad food and lingering odors, Casa Bonita in Lakewood, Colorado, was a legendary local landmark.
The 52k-square-foot Mexican restaurant was bonkers, with themed dining areas, magic and juggling shows, a “haunted” cave, and cliff divers who careened from a 30-foot indoor waterfall.
Casa Bonita achieved some national notoriety after a 2003 “South Park” episode in which Cartman schemes just to be invited to a birthday party there.
Two decades later, “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker own it.
Casa Bonita was once a chain…
… that originated in Oklahoma City in 1968. The Lakewood location opened in 1974, and is the last one standing — yet it hasn’t been an easy ride.
Casa Bonita had long been in disrepair before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2021. That same year, Parker and Stone bought it for $3.1m. They’ve since dropped $40m+ on restorations, per The New York Times, and opened for a test run last week.
So, what’s new?
Well, the cliff divers are back, but with an improved pool exit that isn’t a narrow underground tunnel that, perilously, leads to an electrical room. Also:
- Four new bars
- A ticketing plaza to improve wait times
- Chef Dana Rodriguez, who was rejected when she applied at Casa Bonita in ‘98; she’s since been nominated for six James Beard awards
- The kitchen, which apparently had no ovens because everything was steamed
It’s also ADA-compliant, with new plumbing and no more weird odors.
But perhaps most important…
… is what hasn’t changed.
Parker and Stone kept the building’s pink exterior, and its mariachi bands and puppet shows, and sopapillas with honey — the one menu item people seemed to enjoy at the old Casa Bonita.
That dedication to the OG has earned them a waitlist of 100k+ hopeful customers.
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